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THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




THE WILMER COLLECTION 

OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 

PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 



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BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 



BERTHA THE BEAUTY: 



STORY OF THE SOUTHERN REVOLUTION. 



BY 
SARAH J..C. WHITTLESEY r , 

HEART-DROPS FROM MEMORY'S URN;" "THE STRANGER'S STRATAGEM; 
"HERBERT HAMILTON : OR, THE BAS BLEU," ETC. 



It was a very proper answer to him who asked, why any man should be 
dolightt-d with Beauty? that it was a question that none but a blind man 
could a>k; since any beautiful object doth so much attract the sight of all 
men, that it is in no man's power not to be pleased with it. — Clarendon. 




PHILADELPHIA: 

CLAXTON, EEMSEN & HAFFELFINGER, 

Nos. 819 & 821 Market Street. 
1872. 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by 

#ARAH J. C. WHITTLESEY, 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 

STEREOTYPED BY J. PAGAN & SON, PHILADELPHIA. 



RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY 



^tiiatti 



To D. W. BAGLEY, Esq., 

OF WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA, 



|he Juthor. 



Alexandria, Virginia, 
August 16, 1871. 



603314 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 
Bertha's Father 13 

CHAPTER II. 
Bertha's Friends 16 

CHAPTER III. 
Jealous. — "Uncle Ned" 20 

CHAPTER IV. 

Minnie's Confession. — The Prisoner .... 23 

CHAPTER V. 

Mr. Peterroy Simpkins of Petunia Park . .27 

CHAPTER VI. 
The Breakfast-Table Discussion 30 

CHAPTER VII. 
The Bug Oracle 34 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Mr. Simpkins visits Miss Redmond 37 

CHAPTER IX. 
Peter gets Sacked 42 

CHAPTER X. 

Oak Grove. — "The Academy" 45 

vii 



Vlll CONTEXTS. 

CHAPTER XI. 

PArtE 

Bertha's Trials at " the Academy " . . . .52 

CHAPTER XII. 

Bertha's Descriptive Powers are Exercised . . 56 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Bertha's Bravery 62 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Mr. Redmond startles Edalia 65 

CHAPTER XV. 

Bertha takes French Leave of the Seminary . . 70 

CHAPTER XVI. 

Providence smiles on our Heroine .... 76 

CHAPTER XVII. 
Walter Eldon's Advent. — Edalia's Dream . . 83 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

Minnie's Bridal. —She " Soweth the Wind " . .91 

CHAPTER XIX. 

The Deserted Homestead. —Miss Agnes Bentley. — 

Minnie " Reaps the Whirlwind "... 95 

CHAPTER XX. 
Bertha's Letter 107 

CHAPTER XXI. 

The Wild Storm. — Edalia is Puzzled . . .113 

CHAPTER XXII. 
Horace Stanhope. — Green-Eyes 116 

CHAPTER XXIII. 
A Temperance Lecture. — Jones's Store . . .124 



CONTENTS. IX 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

PAGE 

Little Charlie. — " No Hope " 133 

CHAPTER XXV. 

Horace Stanhope's Reputation among his Relatives 136 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

Edalia betrays her Secret Sorrow. — Walter El- 
don's Confession 142 

CHAPTER XXVII. 
Bertha retrospects the Past 147 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
Bertha's Friends and Foes 157 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

Edalia Surprises Mr. Redmond. — Night -Scene at 

Jones's Store 1G4 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Alonzo Stanhope's Visit to Berkshire . . . 169 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

" The Dove has returned to the Ark "... 175 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

"A Bad Penny sure to come back."— Bitter Mo- 
ments. — Bertha sees " a Face " .... 179 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 

The Hidden Heart. — Edalia is agonized . . . 188 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

The " Face " reproaches Bertha. — Green-Eyes de- 
feated. — Claude Belmont 193 



X CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXXV. 

PAGE 

Mr. Redmond "dives to the Bottom." — The Secret 

Story Revealed 201 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Horace Stanhope risks his Liberty to test his 

Power. — Envy rejoices at Calamity . . 207 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Horace Stanhope's Antecedents. — Alonzo's Opinion 

of Bertha 214 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

The Wedding-Cake. — " Mars Wallie's Good Luck " 219 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 
Bertha the Beauty in Berkshire, Massachusetts . 224 

CHAPTER XL. 
Bertha's Life in Berkshire 232 

CHAPTER XLI. 

Horace Stanhope's Third Failure. — .Bertha Re- 
solves and Executes 240 

CHAPTER XLII. 
Bertha abandons a Jealous Tyrant .... 245 

CHAPTER XLIII. 

Mr. Redmond suspects Bertha's Secret . . . 254 

CHAPTER XLIV. 

Bertha's Nerves receive a Sudden Shock . . . 259 

CHAPTER XLV. 

a Old Folks at Home." — Bertha's Talents Discussed 265 



CONTENTS. XI 

CHAPTER XLVI. 

PAGE 

Horace Stanhope's Divorce. — Claude "tries her 

Faith" 271 

CHAPTER XLVIL 

A Startling Letter. — Bertha's Heart -Secret is 

Exposed 279 

CHAPTER XLVIII. 

Conscientious Scruples. — Claude Belmont's Con- 
fession 285 

CHAPTER XLIX. 

"The War for the Union." — Bertha fears for 

Claude 292 

CHAPTER L. 

After the Battle. — Under-ground Mail . . . 295 

CHAPTER LI. 

Old Broadbrim enters the Lines . . . .301 

CHAPTER LIT. 

Joy and Sorrow. — Bertha finds Work to do . . 303 

CHAPTER LIII. 
The Unexpected Meeting. — The Enamored Chap- 
lain 314 

CHAPTER LIV. 

Horace Stanhope Confesses to Bertha . . . 321 

CHAPTER LV. 

Stanhope's Meeting with Percy Ormund . . .328 

CHAPTER LVI. 

Old Friends and War-Times in Bertha's Early 

Home 336 



Xll CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER LVII. 

PAGE 

The Last of Earth. — Bertha's Presentiment . . 346 

CHAPTER LVIII. 

Shoulder-Straps and Private Caps. — Col. Ormund 

the Brave . . 354 

CHAPTER LIX. 

Last Scene in Berkshire, Massachusetts . . . 364 

CHAPTER LX. 

A Speedy Reaction. — The Lost is Found . . . 369 

CHAPTER LXI. 
Mr. Redmond "lets the Cat out." — Home, Sweet 

Home, there 's no Place like Home . . . 375 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY, 



CHAPTER I. 



IT was a low brown house, with a long piazza hung with 
golden jessamines flooding the blue air with fragrance 
in early spring; and roses, and violets, and asters, and 
chrysanthemums blooming about it all the year round, ex- 
cepting the bleak, blossom-blighting months of winter. 

There were crimson - fringed maples, and vine - covered 
poplars, and broad-leaved sycamores, and acorn-filled oaks, 
towering above the low brown house with the long piazza ; 
crowning it with shadows of purple, and pouring cool breezes 
into the low wide windows, through all the long sultry 
days of faint-hearted summer ; and dropping their golden 
and crimson leaves and rattling acorns on the moss-covered 
shingles, in the sober and sweetly pensive days of autumn. 

Set down in a wide green yard, with a wider and greener 
garden behind it, was the low brown house with the long 
piazza, with the deep breezy woodlands belting it like an 
emerald ring on a background of blue. 

Hard by the low brown house with the long piazza was 

the little brown church, with its plain pine benches and 

old-fashioned pulpit, all guiltless of paint and odorous of 

new timber; with small wooden boxes filled with swamp 

2 13 



14 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

sand, dotting the clean floor of the country sanctuary, for 
the accommodation of tobacco-chewers and benefit of the 
sexton — which functionary was the Rev. Dr. Williams, 
who was mainly instrumental in the erection of the little 
brown church, and from whom, in consequence, it derived 
its distinguishing title — Williams's Chapel. 

And here was our heroine christened — little golden- 
haired, waxen -faced, brown-eyed Bertha Belmont. Like 
most heroines, Bertha was a beauty, and poor ; but unlike 
them, in general, she was not an orphan. Her father was 
a Connecticut Yankee, who had wandered away from his 
native State (a genuine Yankee characteristic) with a fair 
young bride, to North Carolina, and married the mother of 
our heroine, after the death of his first wife. Two sons were 
born of the first union ; a girl and boy of the second. 

Mr. Belmont bore the reputation of being "easy as an 
old shoe ; " his bump of self-esteem was painfully low. He 
had no ambition beyond threadbare breeches and a well- 
filled pipe. Six years after the birth of his daughter, Mr. 
Belmont left the pleasant town of Williamsville, on the 
river Roanoke, where she first opened her brown eyes to the 
sunshine and blue skies, and settled down in the low brown 
house with the long piazza, twenty-one miles from the place 
of her birth, in the dark wild woods. 

Born and reared in town, admired by the beaux, and 
envied by the belles, in the highest circles of society, Mrs. 
Belmont half died of ennui, eleven mortal years, in the 
dark, lonely woods of her native Carolina. 

Mr. Belmont's abolition sentiments militated against his 
interest in the Southland. They said he sought to apply 
the match of Yankee officiousness to the magazine of their 
Southern institution ; but proof was wanting to convict him 
of the crime, and he lived unmolested, an object of suspicion. 

Mr. Belmont would have been wholly neglected by his 
neighbors, but for his college education acquired at old 



15 

Yale, which often rendered him necessary to those far his 
superior in wealth. If there was a lawsuit pending, Mr. 
Belmont's advice must be had ; if there was a difficulty 
among the rustics, Mr. Belmont must arbitrate it ; if there 
was a shower of electricity resembling falling stars, Mr. 
Belmont must be aroused at midnight to pacify the panic- 
stricken ; if the sun was unusually eclipsed, Mr. Belmont 
must account for the phenomenon on philosophical prin- 
ciples. And so Mr. Belmont was a man of importance 
among the aristocracy and democracy, for miles around, 
notwithstanding his anti-slavery principles, and the suspi- 
cion with which he was regarded. 

Whether Mr. Belmont's abolition sentiments were ever 
expressed to the prejudice of masters or not, they certainly 
were detrimental to his own pecuniary circumstances ; for 
his great sympathy for those in bondage kept his purse in 
the last stage of consumption — lean as Pharaoh's kine; and 
the low brown house with the long piazza remained in an 
unfinished state eleven long, poverty-pinched years. The 
w r alls were unplastered, and the wainscot unpainted; and 
the means requisite to complete the work went from Mr. 
Belmont's benevolent pocket to fill black mouths with 
tobacco and rum, supposed to be for a more charitable pur- 
pose. Mr. Belmont could not say No ! to a twig from an 
Ethiopian tree ; and his credulity was astonishing. 

His farm of thirty acres was poorly cultivated, for he 
was too tender of Africa to enforce obedience to his com- 
mands ; while his children and pupils were well thrashed 
for any dereliction in duty. His goods were sold on trust 
to ebony customers, who never returned an equivalent, and 
who stole from him at night what they had not purchased 
"on tick" in the day. But Mr. Belmont pitied the un- 
fortunate race, and entered no complaint, but suffered 
them to go scot-free. Mr. Belmont failed many times, 
as a merchant, solely through sympathy for the ignorant 



16 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

and oppressed sons of Ham ; while the inmates of the low 
brown house with the long piazza walked the ways of 
humble life, through lack of the scattered and stolen means 
that would have elevated them to their rightful position in 
refined Southern society. 

But Mr. Belmont was a man of sterling integrity and 
inflexible probity, and his greatest weakness was that which 
kept him poor, and his family in the vale of obscurity. 
Mr. Belmont was not adapted, mentally, to the latitude in 
which he had located ; and his family were the greatest 
sufferers, through his mistake in emigrating from free soil, 
overalls, and hay-ricks. He was his children's teacher; and 
not till she had attained the age of fourteen did Bertha 
receive instruction from another. 

Our heroine had no childhood. She was a quiet, solemn, 
isolated thing from earliest youth, who read stolen romances 
at midnight when her parents were asleep, and dreamed, in 
the purple, breezy woods, at noonday and twilight, of the 
great gay world afar off, of which she had read. Bertha 
Belmont was a timid, taciturn, and visionary child. 



CHAPTER II. 

BERTHA'S FRIENDS. 



HA, ha! — he, he!" 
" What's the matter, Min ? " 
" Ha, ha ! — he, he ! — Mr. Belmont 's bought a nigger ! " 
" I don't believe it ! " 
" True as you 're alive ! — I saw it done ! " 
"Well, that shows! Thought it was against his prin- 
ciples." 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 17 

" So 't is ; he did it to oblige the darky. You know Mr. 
"Wallace is about to move to Tennessee, to join his wife's 
father, and the woman don't want to go ; so, to accommo- 
date her, Mr. Belmont has become her purchaser, through 
his wife. He handed the money over to madam, and 
shakes his skirts clean of the great sin of slavery — ha, 
ha! — he, he!" 

" He 'd better have kept the money to finish his house." 

" So, so ; but then the poor thing would have to go to 
Tennessee against her will." 

" 'T would n't hurt her much, for she has n't a relative 
in all this section, and she 's rather old to have formed a 
romantic attachment." 

"Ha, ha! — he, he! — makes no difference — she don't 
want to go, and that 's enough for Mr. Belmont — he, 
he ! " 

" Hush, you rattlebox ! Well, I hope his poor wife won't 
have to burn her brown eyes out over the kitchen fire any 
longer. It 's a shame how that woman does slave from 
morning till night, when her husband's education is suffi- 
cient to keep them up in the world as high as the wealthiest, 
if he had the ambition and self-respect of a Southerner. 
Mrs. Belmont was the envy and admiration of the circle in 
which she moved, before her marriage, they say ; not rich, 
but the adopted daughter of an aristocrat, and might have 
done better than become a household and kitchen drudge. 
Well, it all comes of marrying a Yankee." 

" Yes ; is n't it astonishing what a difference there is 
. between the people of the two sections ? No more alike 
than a French dancing-master and a country bumpkin ; or 
a mulatto housemaid and a coal-black ploughboy ! Pity, 
they don't stay where they can be appreciated, and marry 
among their own people. Mr. Belmont is a good man, as 
the world goes, and highly educated ; but his poor family is 
2* B 



18 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

dreadfully crushed down by his grovelling nature. Poor 
Bertha is n't a bit like him there. She 's high-minded and 
ambitious, as he is low and draggling, and feels her situation 
keenly. I 've seen her cry over the unplastered walls and 
tumble-down palings." 

"Yes; but it's an old saying, and I think a true one, 
that ' strange faces make fools fond.' " 

" "Well, that is n't saying much for Mrs. Belmont." 
" Quite as much as she 'd say of herself, I reckon." 
" Wonder, if she 'd try it again, if she were free now." 
" Hm ! I should think her fire-faded eyes and burned fin- 
gers would be a caution to her in future. What small hands 
she has! — a genuine Southern hand — never was meant to 
swing pots and kettles. You may tell a Northerner by the 
huge size of his hands and feet — " 

"And stiff joints ! " interrupted Minnie, with a shrug of 
her fair young shoulders. 

"There 's Jim Hanson works in the field like one of his 
own slaves during the week, and on Saturday mounts his 
glossy steed and goes dashing out to Log Chapel, in broad- 
cloth, kid-gloves, and Southern airs ; while Mr. Belmont, if 
he favors his family at all, puts them into an antediluvian 
gig and trudges beside it, in well-worn satinet, and with big, 
bare hands — augh ! And just to think how genteelly they 
might live, with his education and income, if he had the 
ambition to rise above wash-tubs and pea-planting ! " 
" Very true. And so he has really purchased a slave? " 
"Really, Ed. I was at Mr. Wallace's when the bargain 
was made. Won't it astonish the natives ? " 

"With his principles, I should think he would have 
given her free papers." 

" Hm ! that 's another thing. Dr. Clark says he always 
found it to be an easy matter to bury other people's chil- 
dren. Who ever bought negroes for the philanthropic 



19 

purpose of setting them free? Catch vie marrying a 
Yankee ! " 

" Or me, Min. Poor Bertha ! her chance for it is pain- 
fully fair. Her father's house is the peddler's home, you 
know, and I should n't wonder if — " 

" I know. She 's hardly fourteen, and has n't finished her 
education ; but that peddler Harwood is after her, and if her 
father commands it, she'll marry him, love or no love, for 
his word is law under his own roof; and Mr. Belmont has a 
strong partiality for his own people. Poor Bert ! I mean 
to warn her against marrying a Yankee, with her Southern 
taste and temperament — I will! " 

This was Mr. Belmont's reputation among his Southern 
neighbors. They abused and ridiculed him for his low liv- 
ing, and stood aloof from his family because of its Yankee 
head. Mr. Belmont thought but little of their neglect and 
reserve, and cared less ; forgetting, in his selfishness, that 
his wife and daughter were social beings, and suffered from 
his indifference. , 

Bertha had but few friends and associates. At school 
she was so envied by the girls, because of the boys' ad- 
miration of her beauty, that they drew back from the 
lonely child, and whispered, malevolently, of her Yankee 
origin. 

Edalia Redmond and Minnie Montrose were her fastest 
and best-loved friends. Prejudiced against Yankees, they 
pitied the situation of our heroine ; and the two girls rarely 
met but Mr. Belmont came in for a good share of vitupera- 
tion and abuse from their voluble little tongues. 

They disliked him for his slovenly style of living and 
well-known principles, as much as they loved Bertha for 
her Southern spirit and affectionate disposition ; and though 
they were his pupils for several years, Mr. Belmont did 
not succeed in winning the regard of the aristocratic little 



20 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

friends of his daughter. Bertha would have been lonely 
indeed, but for these two girls. They were a pretty trio. 
Minnie was motherless, and Edalia was the adopted child 
of a bachelor uncle — both her parents were in their graves. 
Their homes were near, and daily intercourse was the de- 
light of these three loving little creatures, as the years rolled 
them silently up to womanhood. 



CHAPTER III. 



171 DIE, Edie ! come to trysting-tree ! " and the gay girl 
J clasped Edalia's hand and pulled her through the lit- 
tle cottage-gate, down to the narrow footpath that sloped 
to the clear, cool spring, bubbling and sparkling beneath 
the old maple. 

It was a sweet May morning. The skies, as they glanced 
now and then through a dense foliage of oak-leaves and in- 
terlaced limbs, matted and dripping with early dew, looked 
blue and smiling as the sweet spring violets that peeped up 
from velvety ridges of rich moss about the old oak-roots, 
and nestled in groups, half hid, among green grass that 
edged the wayside. 

She was a bright, wild, free thing — Minnie Montrose ; 
and her young heart was everlastingly running over with 
music and mirth through her beautiful blue eyes and very 
rosebud of a mouth. 

Minnie lived just over the way from Edalia's uncle's and 
Bertha's home; and last night a bright light had shone 
through the windows of Dr. Montrose's mansion, from 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 21 

candle-light till the chime of two; and, nervously, Edalia 

had longed for the dawn of day, to get the whole secret from 
little, simple-hearted Minnie. And not only this, but she 
had dispatched Dinah to the illuminated mansion, with full 
instructions to reconnoitre, and so forth, who returned with 
the soul-harrowing information that Mr. Charles Chester — 
her " Charlie " — was " setten up to Miss Min ! " 

How jealous she was! — and how she watched, from her 
chamber-window, with flashing eyes and lip gravitating 
toward the sill, till the last spark had gone out in the hall 
below, and streamed through the casements of Minnie's 
chamber ; for Charles Chester was her young heart's earliest 
flame, but she had kept the light " under a bushel," lest it 
should be seen by " all that were in the house ; " and now 
that he had forsaken her for a brighter, a fairer, and a 
gayer one, she resolved in her heart, on her restless couch 
that night, to smother the flame in its hiding-place, or snuff 
herself out in the arduous effort — in a word, to conquer or 
die ! She wrote out in fancy, on the flag of firm resolve, the 
motto that should henceforth be hers : " Victory or Death ! " 
And after repeating the touching lines of Sir Walter Scott, 
as an elegy for Love's Young Dream — 

" Like the dew on the mountain, 
Like the foam on the river, 
Like the bubble on the fountain, 
Thou art gone, and forever ! " 

poor, sentimental Edalia Redmond sobbed herself into an 
uneasy slumber. 

Unusually early she was up this morning, and at her 
window, looking out for Minnie ; but the muslin curtains 
that shaded her casements were undrawn, and she knew the 
object of her jealousy had not yet risen. Dispatching 
Dinah with a hasty message to the Doctor's, she descended 



22 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

to the piazza, where the jessamine vines, laden with bright 
blossoms of the richest perfume, were winding and clinging 
around the white pillars and dewy eaves, where a little 
song-bird had built its nest, and was now busily employed 
in carrying food to its unfledged young, whose little open, 
golden-lined mouths she could discern, uplifted and piping, 
to receive the dainty vermicular morsel. 

Mr. Kedmond — familiarly called by the young girls of 
the neighborhood, " Uncle Ned," — crept up behind her, as 
she stood watching the callow young, and imprisoned one 
of her little ears in each of his big fists. 

" Hey-day, Miss, — early riser ! Think you '11 find a hus- 
band this morning ? " 

"What, uncle?" 

"Ha, ha, ha! little innocent! S'pose you don't know 
it 's May-day ? Snails don't crawl this morning, mebby ; 
and Miss Edalia Redmond isn't thinking of blue plates 
and sifted flour — ha, ha ! " 

" Uncle ! indeed, I was n't thinking of that ; and now 
you remind me, I '11 go right off and ' scour the plain' for a 
conquest. Won't you go too, uncle ? " 

"P-o-o-h! fiddlesticks! What d'ye think, Miss? snails 
would write in my plate but numbskull! But yonder 
comes Miss Minnie in a flurry. She's off for a snail-hunt, 
I'll be bound." 

And, sure enough, yonder did come the light-hearted 
maiden, bounding like a fawn down the green lawn, sylph- 
like, in her white muslin morning gown and black silk 
apron, with its long strings floating out behind like stream- 
ers in the breeze ; and close astern followed Di, her white 
teeth and eyes shining in fine contrast with her smooth 
black skin. Edalia was at the gate in a twinkling. 

" Success, young ladies ! " shouted Mr. Redmond, his 
shrill voice following them through the shady woods ; — 



BEAUTY. 23 

"success, young ladies, and don't forget the sorrows of a 
poor old Bach'!" 

It was a sweet spot, that by the crystal spring. The roots 
of the old spreading tree were cushioned with just the softest 
and greenest grass in the world, and spotted over with tiny 
white flowers, and blue violets that bent over the edge of 
the fairy fountain, and mirrored their meek eyes in its cool, 
clear depths. And over the little silvery rill that trickled 
from the fountain-urn, aud crept along the white channel 
with a musical murmur, was the dark old pond, environed 
by a thick emerald belt of whortleberry and honeysuckle, 
covered with bloom and golden-winged bees, humming and 
buzzing in their fragrant cells. And then a world of music 
floated up from the deep purple behind the hedge, from the 
clear throats of a thousand morning birds, flitting and 
chirping, and shaking their glossy wings in exuberant joy, 
all through the cool shadows of the wild old pond. 

The two girls dropped in beautiful abandon upon the 
green grass, and sat a while in silence ; they were thinking 
of one who was wanting to complete the charm — lovely 
Bertha Belmont. And where was Bertha ? 



CHAPTER IV. 



YOU won't laugh, Edie, if I tell you ? " queried Minnie, 
looking roguishly up into her companion's sober eyes. 
" Not if I know it, Min," — but she did laugh for very 
6pite. 

Minnie clasped her small hands together right suddenly, 



24: BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

and a merry peal rang musically from her red mouth. 
Edalia was irritated. She said : 

" In the name of sense, Minnie, are you growing wild?" 

" I believe I am ; but it 's so laughable to think that I — 
let me see — just sixteen — am going to be married ! " 

Edalia started up, horror-struck. 

"Married! To whom?" 

" Why, Charley, child ; dear, handsome Charley Chester, 
that I 've worshipped from a wee bit of a thing. Don't you 
envy me ? " 

A sort of disappointed grunt escaped Edalia's vexed and 
jealous heart. 

"Hm! I wish you joy of your prize, and hope your 
matrimonial bower may ever be as green as the age in 
which you are going to enter it ! " 

" Green ! " and Minnie raised her sweet blue eyes with a 
quizzical expression. "I wonder what Walter would say to 
hear that ! Would n't we have a coroner's inquest over his 
unfortunate self right early, and a verdict rendered of 
4 Death voluntary'?" 

" Then he may die, for all I care ! I 'm certain I would n't 
marry Walter Eldon to save him from hanging ! " 

Minnie's eyes dilated with astonishment, for the truth 
was, to conceal her partiality for Charles Chester, Edalia 
had long permitted the supposition that Walter Eldon was 
the "one bright, particular star" that guided her along 
life's troubled sea, like the poor bird that affects distress to 
decoy adolescence from its little nest-home in the grass; 
and now that the lure had been effectual, she had suddenly 
spread her unbroken wings and darted away, when all 
imagined the victim was sure. A faint shade came over 
Minnie's bright face. 

" Why, Edie Redmond ! You won't reject Walter Eldon? 
Poor Wallie, it would break his heart ! " and something 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 25 

like the tiniest sparkle of a dewdrop shone in her young 
eyes. 

" P-o-o-h, Min — ■ fiddlesticks ! ' — as uncle would say, — 
hearts don't break so easily. They are only a troublesome 
appurtenance of the 'mortal coil,' fixed in the human 
breast by retributive power; a strange, incomprehensible, 
unfathomable structure — whalebone and India rubber — 
elastic as fancy, and strong as misfortune ; it won't break 
when you 'd have it, and more 's the pity ! " 

The young girl gazed long in her companion's flashing 
eye, without a word ; the truth was, surprise deprived her 
of speech. At length she said : 

" Edie, you used to confide in me ; won't you tell me your 
sorrow now ? " 

" Sorrow ! " — and Edalia laughed gaily, by way of dis- 
sembling. " You don't deem me capable of feeling a deeper 
sorrow than the loss of a friend and companion from the 
sunny shore of celibacy into the wide rolling ocean of 
matrimony would occasion ? Won't I be lonely when you 
are buried ? " 

Minnie twisted her white, bare arms around her friend's 
neck, with another merry peal that startled the birds from 
their leafy nooks. 

" O-o-h, is that all ? Then, cheer up, Edie, and don't 
lengthen out your phiz to such deacon-like dimensions ; for 
Charley is to live with papa, and his bride will be found of 
Edie as often and as near as before she assumed so weighty 
a responsibility. But see here, Edie, there's a snail just at 
your feet, and, though I did n't think of it before, this is the 
first of May ; so secure the prize, and let 's consult the 
oracle with reference to your future destiny, for if you won't 
have Walter — " 

" Plague take Wall, and the snail too ! " ejaculated 
Edalia, peevishly, and had well-nigh landed the poor thing 
3 



26 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

in the pond-waves, in her impetuosity ; but fortunately for 
her hidden heart, she thought of the absurdity of such an 
act, and what fancies it might awaken in Minnie's mind ; 
and so she forbore. 

Carefully lifting the white shell, with its worm-treasure 
timidly coiled up inside, upon a maple-leaf, the two girls 
bathed their faces in the cool spring waters, and started for 
the cottage. 

Jovial Mr. Redmond was lounging in the piazza, and 
peeping through the vines towards the gate. The old 
gentleman poked his round, good-natured face through a 
loophole made by his two hands amid the leaves and blos- 
soms, and shut one eye at the maple-leaf in his niece's hand. 

"Hey-day, Miss, scared 'im up, did ye?" 

" No, indeed, uncle ; he scared me up. Like a true lover, 
the thing came and humbled himself in the grass at my 
feet ; and so to imitate the example of the good, ' he w T as a 
stranger and I took him in.' " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! capital, by Jupiter ! But, see here, Miss 
Minnie, where 's your bug ? " 

" Could n't catch him, Uncle Ned. Snails all know when 
May-day comes, and having a radical aversion to writing, — 
like some correspondents who ' hate the very sight of a pen,' 
— they hide away in their dens till the danger is past ; all 
but this poor novice, whose temerity will surely cause him 
to be laid on the table." 

" Oh, blast the things ! you did n't look ! " 

"Why no, Uncle Ned, I didn't much. The truth is," 
and she glanced coyly at the old bachelor, "I know my 
fortune, and ask no snail-prognostications." 

"Oh-ho! that's it! And so the question's popped, eh? 
I'll bet two chincapins, the stopper flew out in the moon- 
shine last night, and spilt every drop of the boy's timidity, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 27 

eh, Min?" and he chucked her egg-shell chin, and laughed 
complacently. 

" But see here, Miss Redmond, you ain't going to be 
beat ? » 

" Why not, uncle ? I 'd like to know if Edward Red- 
mond, Esq., was n't beat in his young day ? " 

" Oh, hang it! Catch me going down on my foot-handle- 
hinges to any female-woman, so long as I can take care of 
myself; unless Miss Bertha will have me, when she comes 
back. But you, Ed, want a protector." 



CHAPTER V. 

MR. PETERROY SIMPKINS OF PETUNIA PARK. 

BUT you, Ed, want a protector," repeated Mr. Redmond ; 
for Edalia's thoughts had wandered away to distant 
Bertha, at her uncle's allusion, and she failed to respond 
with characteristic quickness. 

" And have n't I one in my worthy uncle ? I 'd like to 
know that." 

" Fiddlesticks ! But I 'm an old man now, and who '11 
care for Edalia when I put out for ' parts unknown,' so 
well as handsome Peterroy Simpkins of Petunia Park ? " 

Minnie sprang to her feet and screamed with merriment 
at this allusion, and w T ell she might ; for said Peterroy — or 
Peter, as he was christened and called to Peter's indigna- 
tion — was moulded much after the fashion of a rolling-pin, 
i. e. little at both ends, and big in the middle. Peter was 
decidedly dumpy — in fact, a globose lump of mortality; 
and had his equilibrium been upset on the brow of a hill, he 



28 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

would probably have revolved in an}' position to the bottom 
as easy as a football. Peter was emphatically round, and 
might have sat in one of Shakspeare's 'Ages ' for the 'Alder- 
man's' portrait. 

His understanding was incontrovertibly capacious, that 
is, so far as his boots were concerned ; said boots being some 
inches longer than the generality of boot-jacks ever came 
in contact with. In fact, one of Mr. Redmond's carpenters 
once attempted to pick up Peter's foot for a shingle ! 

His head was round, too, and so little that his shiny silk 
hat, whieh under other circumstances might have seemed 
important, disdained to look dignified on so insignificant a 
caput, and slunk down obsequiously upon his shoulders. 

His hair was rather light — that is to say, on the shady side 
of a nankeen ; and each particular hair stuck " closer than 
a brother " to its fellow-sufferer, cemented in bonds of ten- 
derest friendship by a daily and liberal application of castor 
oil. It curled, too, said hair did — thanks to sundry bits of 
paper that each morning appeared on Mr. Peterroy's toilet- 
table, in one round, full, golden roll, far below an attic-story 
shirt-collar that gloried in a vast quantity of starch and 
indigo, and stood up stiff as a college student, above his two 
little stingy-looking auditories that never were permitted to 
rejoice in the luxury of a grateful breeze. 

His face was round, rough, and ruddy; flanked on both 
sides by a sparse " free-soil " growth of rose-colored whis- 
kers ; and in the northern section of the middle was located 
a "spirit-stirring" nose, that had evidently been taught 
from childhood to " hope on, hope ever ; " for under all 
circumstances, and in every trying vicissitude, said nose 
was observed to be always cheerfully looking up. 

His eyes were of an indescribable sandy and gray hue, 
and glittered under his short golden lashes like two stars 
on a frosty night. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 29 

But Peter was a man of extraordinary equanimity, inde- 
pendence, and unchangeableness ; for Edalia could not re- 
member the time, she declared, when his present pair of 
inexpressibles had a predecessor. In fact, they had evidently 
known the " growth of ages," or else shrunk up with fear 
during the horrors of the Kevolution, judging from the 
amplitude of exposed leather at the nether extremity of 
his person, to which Peter's pants absolutely refused to do 
justice. 

Such and so " handsome " was the individual referred to 
by Mr. Redmond as a suitable personage to assume the 
guardianship of his luckless niece after his anticipated de- 
mise. Truth to say, said Adonis had, from time to time, 
evinced a right good will to lay claim to said*" title, in- 
duced so to do, doubtless, by an avaricious survey of her 
uncle's broad acres and solitary heir, and presuming upon 
his own " chattels, personal and real estate," — which con- 
sideration was a prop to Peter's chin, and the rod and staff 
that comforted him under circumstances of so peculiar a 
lack of personal attractions; and none could boast of a more 
erect and dignified gait, or higher bared his brow to drink 
the essence of the golden day, than Mr. Peterroy Simpkins, 
of Petunia Park, as Peter's paternal residence was aristo- 
cratically styled. 

Peter's parents were of the most plebeian origin; but 
fortune's wheel had turned them over to wealth inherited 
from a distant relative when their only heir was ten years 
old ; and thereupon Peter's homespun name was elongated 
by that self-sufficient young gentleman to render it more 
stylish, and his juvenile lordship put on airs to comport 
with his altered circumstances. Peter took to aristocracy as 
naturally as a duck to water. Unfortunately, in an evil 
hour for Edalia, she had touched some tender chord in 
Peter's sensitive soul, judging from the swell that upheaved 



30 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

his linen bosom, producing a tergiversation among its 
crimped frill, and communicating the electric thrill to the 
golden roll that lay upon his coat-collar. Thereafter Peter 
was the great bugbear of her existence. 

Minnie's face finally smoothed soberly down, after the 
outburst occasioned by Mr. Redmond's remark, and she 
said, demurely : 

"I am greatly indebted to you, Uncle Ned, for this 
insinuation; it explains Ed's aversion to a union we have 
long considered inevitable, from past premonitions — poor 
Walter!" 

" Poor Walter ! " echoed Uncle Ned, with a face elongated 
to all possible dimensions. " Well, there 's no contending 
successfully against fate. Marriages, they say, are made in 
heaven, and that 's why the girls sometimes fly off like a 
parched pea just before the knot is tied ; they get in the 
wrong pew at the beginning. ' Fantastic as a woman's 
mood,' wrote Scott. I used to think he was a confounded 
old churl for it ; but ' the man 's the gowde for a' that,' and 
knew more of the creature's nature than the old bachelor. 
Girls are just like kittens — they '11 purr and look amiable, 
so long as you '11 pat 'em and smooth 'em ; but cross 'em a 
bit, and their dander is ' riz', like a yeast-loaf laid over till 
morning, and their claws into you like all possessed ! " 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE BREAKFAST-TABLE DISCUSSION. 

POOR WALTER ! And so you 've had a lover's quar- 
rel, eh, Ed ? Scratched him and quit, and turned over 
to Peter? Well, well, girl, what is to be will be, and I '11 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 31 

bet two chincapins the bug has writ P S in the plate, and 
we '11 have a wedding here before shortly, and beat Min 
yet — won't we, Ed ? " 

Edalia could have cried for spite and vexation; but 
smothering down the young volcano just ready to burst 
through a mountain of indignation, she said, with forced 
calmness and a spice of vindictiveness : 

"I dare say we shall, uncle, if you and widow Wilmer 
resolve to ' live and love together* before September. Min- 
nie offers herself as a sacrifice upon the hymenial altar at 
the glorious autumn time — poor thing! " 

" Widow Wilmer! thunder! Why hang — I mean, bless 
the girl ! You don't think I 'm going to commit matrimony? 
I 'd as lief stick my head in a hornet's nest, — blamed if I 
would n't ! Widow Wilmer — thunder ! " 

" Well, so I think, uncle. One may find an antidote for 
the poison of a winged insect, but there 's no balm in 
Gilead for a matrimonial sting, and I have no idea of sub- 
jecting myself to its horrors. 'After you' is manners for 
me, uncle, and I mean to follow in the footsteps of my illus- 
trious predecessor." 

" And die an old maid? I '11 see you hanged first ! " and 
the old gentleman snapped his eyes and fingers by way of 
emphasis. 

" But I don't want to marry, uncle." 

"Sin and sixty! — don't believe a word of it! There 
never was a girl yet who did n't 'live and move and have 
her being' in matrimonial speculations. Woman was made 
to marry, — man wasn't so much." 

" Very probable, uncle ; when the Creator said, ' It is not 
good for man to be alone,' and gave him Eve to render him 
perfect. And besides, I like to know whom she 's going to 
marry." 

" Yes, there you are at the catch ; but I say, ivas n't he 



32 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

1 perfect,' after it ? If Adam had lived an old bachelor like 
me, he might have been in the garden of Eden yet, sur- 
rounded by angels — just as I am ! " 

" Many thanks for the compliment, Uncle Ned," said 
Minnie ; " but I venture to say, if God had made the 
prohibition to Adam alone, he would have eaten the fruit 
without any temptation from the serpent, and consequently 
could have offered no plea in extenuation of his crime." 

"Just so, Min," ejaculated Edalia. "The Creator knew 
woman's credulity, and man's irreverent daring, and to 
avert the calamity of wilful and unpardonable disobedi- 
ence, He made the surpassing loveliness of Eve a palliative 
for man's transgression, and so laid the burden of his sin at 
the door of Satan." 

" Oh, blast the — I mean, bless the girls ! there 's no sense 
or reason in 'em ! When you think you 've got 'em, they '11 
slip through your fingers with a contemptible hypothesis. 
Right or wrong, there 's no holding 'em. But there 's the 
bell, so let's leave fancy and take to reality; " and they all 
sat down to breakfast. 

" I wish Bertha was here," said Minnie. 

" So do I ! " cried Edalia. 

" And I ! " added Mr. Redmond. 

"Me too!" whispered Di, behind her young mistress's 
chair. 

And where was our heroine? Away up in the western 
part of Carolina, at La Violet Seminary. 

" Bert will make a splendid woman, with her rare beauty, 
and the education Belmont designs giving her," continued 
Mr. Redmond. 

" But I 'm afraid it will all be thrown away on some 
Yankee peddler," added Minnie, with a curl of her red lip. 

" I hope not, I hope not ! Bertha is too sensible to do a 
foolish thing," the old gentleman spoke, warmly. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 33 

"She'll do just as her father says, that 's certain; — his 
will is law in the low brown house with the long piazza. 
He won't let her wear a bit of jewelry, and wants her to 
learn to cook, scrub, spin, and so forth, as the red-handed 
girls do where he came from ; but Mrs. Belmont manages 
to keep her out of the kitchen. He 's tooth and toe-nail 
against aristocracy. Hm ! I wish he had me to deal with ! " 
and Miunie's cherry lip curled more scornfully over her cup 
of fragrant mocha. 

"'Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.' He has 
his peculiar sectional notions, but is evidently proud of his 
daughter, though he makes but little show of affection: that 
is a Northern characteristic. They make it a point to conceal 
warm feeling beneath a cold surface ; ' pity 't is, 't is true.' " 

" Well, I don't want to be loved under an iceberg ! " 
chimed in Edalia. " If I can't feel the sunshine, it won't 
warm me, and might as well be under a cloud, so far as my 
physical comfort is concerned." 

" Mr. Belmont is a noble-hearted man, say what they will 
of his Yankeeism," continued Uncle Ned, apologetically ; 
" a more obliging neighbor, or honester mortal, don't tread 
Southern soil. Himself is his worst enemy. He '11 lend 
when he needs the articles himself; and if they 're lost or 
destroyed, he sets it down to fortuitous circumstances, and 
demands no indemnification. He 's credulous and easy, to 
the injury of his family. The great pity is, that he married 
a Southern wife, and expects her to imbibe his Northern 
principles. 'When you are in Rome, do as Rome does,' is 
an ancient maxim that ought to be respected ; but Belmont 
treats it with disdain. He thinks he 's right, and is as stub- 
born as that new mule I bought last week — hang 'im ! — ■ 
the mule, I mean. I '11 bring 'im into the traces, or break 
his neck, by Jupiter ! — I mean the mule" 

"I wish you had the same authority over Bertha's father, 

C 



34 

Uncle Ned," said Minnie, laughing ; " it 's a sin and a 
shame to crush that poor child down so with his low-minded 
Northernism, when they might stand so high in the com- 
munity. Why, he might easily be elected to Congress or 
the Legislature, if he had the ambition to aspire. He has 
sent her to the Seminary to prepare her for the drudgery of 
a teacher, they say — poor Bert ! " 

"I don't believe it," replied Uncle Ned, with an indig 
nant thump of his fist upon the table. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE BUG ORACLE. 



AS Mr. Redmond and Edalia sat upon the piazza that 
evening, and the last beams of the setting sun slanted 
over the eaves, and lay in bright gold bars among the green 
grass, he said, suddenly : 

" I say, Ed, time to look after your bug, eh ? If the thing 
can't write P S in a whole day, why, then I say blast it ! 
Where 's Min ? " 

Di was a second time dispatched to the mansion, and 
soon its young mistress was observed posting over the green, 
with parted lips and mirthful eyes, swinging her straw flat 
most unmercifully by one string, in anticipation of seeing, 
as she expressed it, " the elephant." 

In solemn Indian file they marched down the long hall 
towards the pantry, where, in obedience to Mr. Redmond's 
directions, Aunt Cora, the cook, had placed the shell-bug 
on a blue plate, thinly sifted with flour, with another plate 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 35 

turned bottom up, over that, to prevent its escape; and 
above all was smoothly spread a snowy napkin. 

Slowly and solemnly they marched ; first, the squire, 
with a face that would have done infinite credit to any 
judge in Christendom — a face, in fact, that looked like a 
long ■ exclamation-point placed bolt upright after the word 
matrimony! ' 

Second, Min, with one corner of an embroidered pocket- 
handkerchief just visible between her red lips; the rest had 
all gone inside, and served as a sort of hatch to keep down 
the upgushings of a gleeful soul, that so longed to vent 
itself in merry peals, the tears actually stood in her eyes. 

Third, Edalia, with a face as solemn as her uncle's, and a 
compression of the small mcuth that savored of vexation. 

And lastly came Di, her great optics, like cotton-blossoms, 
well spread, shining over her mistress' shoulder, with the 
thumb and forefinger of the right, hand compressing her 
olfactories, while the other hand performed the same office 
for her lips, so as to suppress the smallest possible symptom 
of a titter. 

After fumbling in a prodigiously deep pocket, that w T as, 
in truth, a regular curiosity shop, Aunt Cora drew forth a 
key, and throwing the bolt, they all entered the hall of in- 
quisition. Ranging themselves around the table, a dead 
silence of a moment ensued. Even Minnie's face smoothed 
down. Mr. Redmond folded his arms, and, with deep 
solemnity, asked : 

"Who '11 say grace?" 

The floodgates of Minnie's risibility broke down here, 
and the tide of merriment came, in a rush, through her 
round open mouth. Di dropped on her knees, and out of 
respect for her master crawded under the table to give vent 
to her feelings in characteristic antics. Choking down the 
world of mirthfulness inspired by the ludicrousness of the 
scene, Edalia said, with astonishing gravity : 



36 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" I will, uncle." 

" You, madcap ? Well, go it, boots ! " 

" Oh, Guardian Genius, I thank thee, for the loving care 
and tender mercies vouchsafed to me, from the earliest 
dawn of my existence to the present hour ; and humbly 
beseech a continuation of thy goodness, O Ruler of my 
destiny! especially in the foreshadowing of coming events, 
from the smooth surface of this blue plate ! Grant, O Guar- 
dian Genius, to infuse into this ' lively oracle' a spirit of 
prescience, that the veil of futurity may be drawn aside, and 
the golden glow of its deep and marvellous mysteries reveal 
the hidden things of Fate from the smooth surface of this 
blue plate! Calmly and confidently I submit my destiny 
to thy wisdom; and with whomsoever thou shalt choose (save 
one) will I run with patience the race that is set before me! 
But, O Guardian Genius ! by the memory of what has been, 
and the certainty of what will be, don't say — Peter ! " 

" Ha, ha, ha! — don't say Peter ! Good, by Jupiter ! — 
haDged if it is n't ! Lord, give us grace I Ha, ha ! he, 
he-e-e ! " roared Mr. Redmond, rubbing his hands in excess 
of delight, and accidentally treading on Di's toes that pro- 
truded from under the table; which casualty produced a 
much higher key-note in her music, and somewhat modu- 
lated the velocity of his movements. 

" But hark 'e, young ladies, I go two chincapins on 
; P S and the bug, notwithstanding, and wondrous gift to 
Ed, if I lose — so let 's see ; " and he exposed the poor snail 
snugly coiled up on the rim of the plate, with a trail ex- 
tending from the bottom, and a multiplicity of lines drawn 
upon the white surface by the helpless captive, in its efforts 
to escape its close prison, probably. 

Mr. Redmond and Minnie bent over it with the liveliest 
interest, her eyes twinkling like stars, with fun and expec- 
tation. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 37 

Edalia was apparently indifferent, but in reality would 
have given very much to see what alphabetieal characters 
the traces most resembled ; for, having been left an orphan 
in infancy, and reared in the arms of Africa's descendants, 
it was but natural to suppose she had imbibed a consider- 
able quantum of superstition inherent in that race; and 
though she could not reconcile it with more enlightened 
understanding and powers of reasoning upon natural prin- 
ciples, that a worm should be prophetic of future results, 
yet so repeatedly had she listened to the recital of marvel- 
lous events treasured up in the storehouse of these unsophis- 
ticated and credulous people's retentive memory, and so 
redundant was her imagination, that it subjugated her rea- 
soning faculties, and she could scarcely separate what she 
heard from what she fancied, and consequently could hardly 
persuade herself that they were less than real. Such is 
the effect of association. 

Judge, then, of the mighty palpitations of her anxious 
heart, when Minnie exclaimed, with a scream of delight : 

"I've found it, Ed! — an S as true as fate!" and she 
clasped her small white hands, while a gush of merriment 
followed the announcement ; then, with a rueful countenance, 
she added, pityingly : 

" Poor Edie ! it 's almost as bad as marrying a Yankee! " 



i 



CHAPTER VIII. 

MR. SIMPKIXS VISITS MISS REDMOND. 

WON'T have him, I '11 die first," ejaculated Edalia, 
in the excitement of the moment. 

Good ! — ha, ha ! — glory in your spunk ! " responded 
4 



38 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Uncle Ned ; " but there 's no use contending against fate ; 
and if the bug says ' Peter,' why, so it '11 be — that 's all. 
But, Min, it seems to me these bows are out of joint — both 
turn one way — bless my eyes if it is n't an E ! " yelled 
the old gentleman, clapping his hands with a rousing re- 
port ; " and here 's something ahead looks decidedly like a 
W — four slantendicular lines met in two points at the 
bottom. W E — Walter Eldon — ha, ha ! hanged, if it ain't 
— by Jupiter ! " 

Edalia bent over the object of inspection, and entered 
into a critical examination. Sure enough, there were two 
rough-hewn, skeleton initials approximating the form and 
seeming ofaWE as nearly as she could conceive it pos- 
sible to be produced by aught so inexperienced in the art 
of caligraphy as the poor prisoner in "durance vile" 
before her. 

"Well, Ed," said Mr. Kedmond, "might as well begin to 
bury the hatchet — you and Wall — for the decree has gone 
forth. The bug says, ' Walter Eldon, thou art the man ! ' " 

Edalia was brimful of spite, and it only required this 
spark of satire to ignite her mental magazine. She retorted : 

" The bug has been unjustly arraigned before the bar of 
reason, and common sense renders a verdict of ' not guilty ' 
of the grievous charge of prescience ; and I hereby declare 
it as my avowed and positive belief, that, so far as evidence 
is relied upon, adducible from these hieroglyphic substan- 
tiations, Edward Redmond, LL.D., has alone had a hand 
in it." 

"J/ — hang me by the ears to the new moon, if I 've 
seen the confounded plate since the bug landed in the meal ! 
/ had a hand in it ! — Saucy minx ! I 'm right glad now 
you 've got to have 'im ! " 

"Got to have him! Please your honor, Mr. Shakspeare 
says : ' There 's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough- 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 39 

hew them as we will.' You or the bug have cast my 
future in rather a rude mould ; but determination has 
effected many a triumph over implied fate ; and as I 've 
heard you say, uncle : Quid homo fecit faciat. I 'm invin- 
cibly resolved that the prediction of this bug-oracle shall 
never be verified, — for have him I will not! " 

Aunt Cora, who had evidently heard the discussion, here 
popped her black head into the pantry. 

" Ki ! Lor' bless your heart, honey ; 't ain't no use 
talkin' — you 's gwine to have Mars Wallie jes' as certen as 
day-brake ! I never node snails ter fail yit. Dey seems to 
know joerzactly what 's gwine on in heab'n, for when ole 
Missis was a little gal like you — " 

Edalia stayed not to hear the interesting narrative of 
Aunt Cora, but hasted off to the parlor, where her laughing 
uncle and amused Minnie soon joined her. 

"Tat, rat, bang!" went the door; and Di bounded to 
admit the visitor. 

" I '11 bet two chincapins that 5 s Peter ! " said Mr. Red- 
mond, rubbing his hands with delight. "It thunders up 
Olympus just like 'im ! Miss Minnie, you do the amiable, 
for Ed 's mad as a hornet, and stingy as old cider. But 
Peter '11 palaver 'er, to kill — hark ! " 

"Bon soir, mesdemoiselles ; jesuis charmede voir ; comment 
vous portez vous f " 

Minnie responded : 

" Tres bien,jevous remercie, Monsieur" 

Peter went on, addressing himself to Mr. Redmond : 

"Monsieur Redmond, je suis bien aise de vous voir en 
bonne sante. Que dit on de nouveau f " 

" Confound your Choctaw lingo ! " ejaculated Uncle Ned, 
his eyes snapping with mirth; "talk plain English to a 
plain man, and the deuce take your hypherlut'n ! " 

*' Esquire Redmond, I most importunately implore your 



40 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

most gracious and magnanimous lenity for this unpremedi- 
tated innoxious introduction of Mr. Bolmar to your uncom- 
prehensive scholastic acquirements. The world, sir, has 
experienced the mighty evolutions of a redintegrative pro- 
cess since the halcyon days of your adolescence; and I 
solicit the condescending extension of your clemency for 
this irrefragable evidence of its commendatory renovation 
and marvellous tergiversation. I simply expressed my 
ostensible and unadulterated gratification to behold you 
luxuriating in circumstances incontrovertibly salutiferous, 
and propounded the interrogatory in the transcendentally 
euphonious dialect of trans-atlantic France, with immediate 
reference to the oscillating on clits of Madam Rumor, meri- 
torious of communication." 

"Ah, take a seat, Mr. Simpkins, — take a seat. Thank 
you ; I 'm in statu quo, as you perceive. News ? aye, we 
have news — a bit that may, perhaps, be highly entertaining 
to one in your present interesting situation — I mean, inde- 
pendent bachelorhood." 

Minnie smiled mischievously behind her thick clusters 
of golden brown curls, and Edalia signified to her uncle, 
by unmistakable gestures, her disapprobation of an exposi- 
tion of the day's adventure — but to no purpose. 

The old gentleman continued, with a malicious leer : 

"By the way, Mr. Simpkins, the young ladies and your 
humble servant have, to-day, been impanelled to sit upon 
the body of a deceased anchorite ; and, after mature delib- 
eration and much consultation, finally rendered a verdict 
of ' death from over-exertion in an arduous effort at chiro- 
graphy ! " 

" Marvellous mystery! " enunciated Peter, his pale yellow 
eyebrows arching with curiosity. " Esquire Redmond, pray 
enlighten me with reference to this incongruous affair." 

" Readily comprehended, sir, by the most ordinary capa- 



BERTH A, THE BEAUTY. 



41 



city. Simply suggestive of shell-bugs, blue plates, and 
sifted flour." 

Mr Redmond sneezed, and blew his nose, strongly, alter 
this confession, and Mr. Peterroy foiled to catch the expres- 
sion of his convulsed countenance. 

Peter pressed one delicate hand that sported a magni- 
ficent diamond, upon the left pocket of his white vest, and 
shook the golden roll upon his coat-collar, with a prolonged 
bow, as he replied : 

" Ah, the fair ladies have consulted the foreshadower ot 
coming' events relative to affairs appertaining to a felicitous 
state conterminous upon that of celibacy. Permit the une- 
quivocal expression of an ebullient hope, that the result of 
the investigation has been highly conducive to delectable 
inspirations, in the pure hearts of the angelic experimenters." 
Mr. Redmond's handkerchief was again brought into 
requisition, as he observed the direction in which the young 
gentleman's eye wandered ; and recovering gravity behind 
its friendly folds, he proceeded : 

" Perfectly satisfactory, beyond question, Mr. Simpkins ; 
in proof of which see Miss Edalia's sedate face. Young 
ladies, sir, are terribly deceptive creatures, so far as the 
chief end and aim of their life is concerned, and invariably 
usurp the prerogative of a holy deacon, when most unfit, in 
feeling, to act in his capacity. Trust me, sir, maidens natu- 
rally resort to demureness to conceal some covert and grati- 
fied emotion." 

Edalia glanced at the speaker, comprehended the motive 
that impelled the speech, and grew hastily communicative. 
But Peter was deluded and entrapped, in his simplicity 
and bigotry, by the ambiguous phrases of facetious Uncle 

Ned. 

4* 



42 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY, 



CHAPTER IX. 

PETER GETS SACKED. 

TPHE old clock in the corner chimed eleven, and Mr. 
JL Redmond rose, at a signal from Minnie, to escort her 
home. They vouchsafed Edalia one backward glance as 
they passed out. 

She was alone with Peter. The cricket chirped on the 
hearth, and the tick, tick of his repeater was distinctly heard, 
in the profound silence that reigned supreme, after their de- 
parture. 

" Will Miss Edalia condescend to inform me of the im- 
port of the bug-oracle's communication ? " at length greeted 
her nervous senses. 

Edalia evaded the inquiry, and he dropped heavily at 
her feet, upsetting an ottoman in his downward progress. 

Submitting tacitly to the detention of both hands, the 
amused maiden listened patiently to an elaborate declara- 
tion, composed principally of polysyllables, interlarded with 
French, and terminating with two exclamation-points in 
parenthesis ! 

If the bug had written P S in the plate, it would very 
speedily have been proven a "false prophet." 

Peter retired in high dudgeon and no little mortification 
at the rejection of the suit of his consequential lordship ; 
while Edalia went up to her chamber, with a quiet smile 
lurking in the corners of her small mouth at the remem- 
brance of the recent ludicrous scene. 

Her eyes fell upon a letter, as she approached the bureau, 
and as the superscription met her view, the young girl 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 43 

caught it up hastily, with an involuntary exclamation that 
aroused Di, who was napping it on the hearth-rug. 

" Lordy, massy ! what 's de matter, Miss Ed ? " 

" When did this come ? Why did n't you tell me ? " two 
questions in one breath. 

" Oh, lordy ! " whined Di, rubbing her sleepy eyes with 
both hands. 

" I forgot it, Miss Ed. Mars Belmont called me over for 
it when you was at tea, an' I brung it up here an' furgot it 
— 'deed I did, Miss Ed ! He said the mail got in later 'n 
usual." 

"Now you have done it, you mean thing! It's from 
Bertha, and — " 

" Oh, goody ! " Di leaped up and clapped her hands, 
with a broad grin. 

" And Minnie can't see it now till morning ! You ought 
to be ashamed of yourself! " 

" I 'm rale sorry — 'deed I is, Miss l£d ! " and Di looked 
so penitent that her young mistress kindly answered her 
inquiries respecting the writer's health, happiness, etc., 
and then bade her go to sleep again ; which Di was by no 
means slow in doing. 

Edalia's countenance changed many times during the 
perusal. Now it was solemn, then indignant; now com- 
passionating, then furious ; now it was white and stern, then 
a deep flush of evident anger swept over it. 

She started up suddenly, firmly grasping the missive, 
and left the chamber noiselessly. A stranger might have 
read the kindness of her heart in the considerate feet that 
forbore to disturb a slumbering servant. Coarse-grained, 
ill-natured, and selfish beings may be known by their 
heavy step. 

Edalia went down the long stairs swiftly, and tapped 
softly at her uncle's chamber-door. 



44 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Hallo! " cried a voice inside. 

" Have you retired, uncle ? " 

" Not exactly — got one leg out yet ! " 

" I want to come in, please." 

"You do? — what the deuce! Well, hold on there till 
I slip into this wrapper. There, (throwing open the door,) 
could n't wait till morning to consult me about marrying 
Peter, eh?" 

" Now don't, please ! I 'm just as mad as Tucker, Uncle 
Edward, and I can't sleep a wink till I 've stirred up your 
ire too." 

"A most charitable design, by Jupiter ! Now St. Felix 
defend me from the witch ! She 's run stark mad, and 
mebbe may bite! — can't sleep a wink, and comes down 
here wdiite as a ghost, to scare me out of my dreams ! What 
the deuce is it, child ? " 

" I 've got a letter from Bertha, uncle." 

" Ha, ha, haw ! — is that all, you torment ! Blamed if 
I did n't think you 'd got the hydrophoby, or some other 
rabid disease, from the shine of your eyes — ha, haw ! Well, 
what the mischief is to pay with Bertha ? — Bit by a rattle- 
snake, or run away and got married to some jackanapes?" 

" Worse than that, uncle ? Here, take this easy-chair, 
and I '11 read you this stirring epistle, if — " 

" Worse 'n being bit by a rattlesnake ! What the deuce 
is it ? " The old gentleman stared at her in evident con- 
sternation. 

" I meant a run-away marriage, uncle." 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 45 



CHAPTER X. 



I^HAT the reader may understand our heroine's letter 
_ more fully, we will go back a few months, and come up 
to the date of Bertha's address to her confidential friend, 
With some revelations. 

It was a large handsome house, set down in a wide beau- 
tiful grove, with a broad avenue leading up to it from the 
sandy highway. 

In front was a far - reaching corn - field, with African 
laborers singing merrily over the shining hoe and cutting 
plough ; to the right was a smaller field, with a cotton-gin 
whirring and whizzing away, from morning till night, at the 
farther edge of the worm-fenced inclosure ; to the left was a 
small building, near the yard, plebeian in appearance, but 
aristocratically styled " the Academy ; " and beyond this 
stately residence loomed up the dark wild woods. With 
"the Academy" we have the most to do; but a portrait 
of the inmates of the wealthy home may not be inappro- 
priate. 

Colonel Wilmer, the head of the house, was a large, fat, 
red-faced, good-natured man, with gray eyes and gray queue, 
which was the rich man's pride, for it w r as the only queue in 
that section of the old North State. Colonel Wilmer had 
but one child — a blue-eyed, slender, sickly girl, Dora, whose 
heart was w 7 arm and generous, but whose intellect was not 
of a superior order. A brother and sister had gone to the 
grave early, and Colonel Wilmer and his dyspeptic wife 
were in daily dread of losing this only remaining scion of 
their wealthy house. Dora was -the darling of their hearts, 



46 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

was petted, physicked, and flannelled, until her white face 
grew sallow, her slender form seemingly consumptive, and 
her blue eyes dull and spiritless. 

Mrs. Wilnier was a weak-minded, inquisitive, but amiable 
woman, if not thwarted in her wishes and designs. Her 
greatest weakness was envy and jealousy. She could not 
endure to have her daughter thrown in the shade by an- 
other's superior capacity, even though that other was her 
inferior in wealth and station ; she forgot her womanly dig- 
nity, and betrayed a most lamentable defect in the noblest 
powers of the mind, by condescending to a controversy with 
a child. 

Dora Wilmer was a pupil at La Violet Seminary for a 
short time — only a short time. The girls of the neighbor- 
hood wondered why she had left so early, but Bertha Bel- 
mont never learned the secret until she became a pupil at 
the same institution. Dora's delicate health was the avowed 
cause. That was Miss Wilmer's last experience in boarding- 
school life. A " governess " was obtained from Connecticut 
for the young heiress, and the girls of the neighborhood 
were invited to become pupils with Dora. A small, select 
class was formed, among which was our bright and beauti- 
ful heroine. Colonel Wilmer was what is termed "close" 
for a rich man ; for a poor one, it would have been " mean." 
And by securing a certain number of scholars for his 
daughter's " governess," her salary would not all come out 
of his plethoric purse. . It might have been made a money- 
making business with the Colonel ; whether it was or not, 
we will not assume the responsibility of saying. We leave 
it to the reader to judge of the probability from the circum- 
stances to be related. 

Miss Hinzman, the teacher, was a fair, frail, girlish blonde. 
Bertha Belmont loved her. But she was not long permitted 
to enjoy the advantages 'of her society and instructions. 



THE BEAUTY. 47 

Miss Hinzman, in a few weeks, was reduced, by disease, 
almost to death's door, and at the earliest possible moment 
left the lonely spot for the more congenial atmosphere of 
Norfolk. Bertha, Edalia, and Minnie, grieved over the 
loss of their gentle - hearted friend. Colonel Wilmer and 
family uttered no word of regret. 

Miss Watruff, of New York, was the successor; wholly 
unlike, in mind and person, — squat form, large black eyes, 
and hair of the same hue, pomatumed to the last degree of 
oleaginous heaviness. Both showy and vain, and wholly 
ansympathizing, she failed to win the affection of our 
Bertha and her two best friends. 

The old building denominated "the Academy" was 
moved up from the woods to the yard, and the new teacher 
commenced her duties with a dignity and stately reserve 
meant to awe her pupils into reverence for the august, little, 
dumpy individuality. 

It was drawing-day, and Bertha had finished her sketches 
and presented the sheet to Miss Watruff for inspection. She 
stood silently beside her "chair of state," watching her 
countenance, to catch its expression of approval or disap- 
probation. The brunette face remained immovable. Finally 
she said, doubtingly, without lifting her eyes from the 
drawing : 

" Did you do this ? " 

" Yes, ma'am," — Bertha wondered at the strange query, 
until the truth crept into her young mind and brightened 
her brown eyes. 

"It's very well." Miss Watruff returned the drawings 
and turned away with cool indifference. No smile of en- 
couraging approval accompanied the words, "It's very 
well." 

Bertha knew it was " well," and so did her two friends, 
who made mouths at the teacher, privately, for her stingy 



48 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

praise ; but Bertha was secretly hurt by Miss Watruff's cool 
commendation. 

Dora was also stung by even this sparse praise. She bent 
over to Bertha, and whispered, invidiously : 

" You feels as big as a governor ! " 

Our heroine smiled at Dora's poor grammar, and poorer 
spirit. She comprehended now the head and front of her 
offending ; the drawings were too well executed to suit Dora, 
but why her teacher should treat them so indifferently she 
could not divine. She learned the truth subsequently. 

Colonel Wilmer was an admirer of talent; — no matter 
how poor and obscure a child might be, if it evinced talent, 
Colonel Wilmer was its friend and patron. A handsome young 
English wanderer, whose quick wit had attracted the old 
gentleman's notice, had so ingratiated himself into the rich 
man's affections by his extraordinary gifts of mind, that he 
had been forthwith installed in the Colonel's family as one 
of its members, and entered as pupil to Mr. Belmont, with 
his own son, previous to the death of that noble young son. 

Thomas Wilmer was plain in person; but the poet's 
assertion, "the good die young," was fully verified in his 
death. The fairest, purest star of the Wilmer race set in 
his slender grave, and shines on immortal in the glory land. 

Thomas was his father's son, and the " closeness " attri- 
buted to that father might have proceeded from another 
source. Many an innocent dog, like poor Tray, has been 
soundly thrashed for being found in bad company. 

Thackeray says: "Since the days of Adam there has 
hardly been a mischief done in this world but a woman has 
been at the bottom of it." 

We shall see. 

They were gathered around the tea-table — Colonel Wil- 
mer, wife, daughter, teacher, and adopted son, Leroy Dan- 
vers. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 49 

Leroy was now twenty years old, very handsome and 
manly, but atheistic, as Englishmen unfortunately usually 
are. The young man was a genuine admirer of our heroine, 
and made no secret of his preference during their association 
as schoolmates ; and his visits to the low brown house with 
the long piazza were regularly continued, when Mr. Bel- 
mont had received the appointment of Postmaster, and 
resigned his school. Bertha was shy of the enamored 
youth, for his profanity, overheard on several occasions, 
repulsed her. She admired his beauty and talents, but 
shrank from the wicked possessor. 

The good-natured Colonel addressed himself to Miss 
Watruff, as they discussed the dainties of the tea-table that 
pleasant eve. 

"And how do you find Miss Bertha as a scholar? — 
bright as a new shilling, eh ? " 

" I never knew an apter pupil, sir. She progresses sur- 
prisingly, particularly in drawing and music. She is so far 
advanced in other studies that her improvement in them is 
not so perceptible." 

" I told you so. She was always at the head of her class 
in our school" — and Leroy looked over at the Colonel, 
with a bright face. 

"Ah, young gentlemen in love are not very impartial 
judges ; I make some allowance for your raptures, my boy, 
on that score ; but I always knew Bertha was smart ; " — 
this was invariably the good man's word for "talented." 

Leroy colored slightly, and laughed gaily, at this well- 
meant and well-merited shot in the presence of a stranger — 
and that stranger a little black-eyed young woman. 

Mrs. Wilmer bit her thin lip, as she remarked, dryly : 

"I never discovered anything specially remarkable in 
that child ; she is not destitute of brains, nor gifted with 
more than an ordinary share. If she learns well, it is 
5 1) 



50 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

simply because she is forced to it by her Yankee father, 
who, I believe, designs her to get her living by teaching." 

This was stepping on the teacher's toe with a vengeance, 
and her countenance betrayed her consciousness of the ruth- 
less compression ; but it produced the desired effect, for Miss 
Watruff never thereafter laid herself liable to a second 
affront by praise of Bertha Belmont. Had she been a true 
woman, this expressed "belief" of Mrs. Wilmer would have 
inspired her with deeper interest in the advancement of one 
who was designed for her own profession ; but Miss Watruff 
was too vain and selfish to sacrifice the smiles of Mrs. Wil- 
mer by doing justice to her gifted young pupil. Miss 
Watruff loved the praise of men and novel-reading more 
than to do justly, and stem the tide of opposition in the per- 
formance of duty ; for Bertha never saw her at home, out 
of the " Academy," but she was deep in the mysteries of a 
romance. But our heroine did not condemn her for this, 
for she herself was " in the same condemnation." 

Mrs. Wilmer was not justifiable in this belief relative to 
Mr. Belmont's intention respecting his daughter; for no 
such design had ever been entertained, much less expressed, 
by Bertha's father ; he was too proud and fond of his only 
daughter — notwithstanding his seeming to the eye of the 
world — to lay such plans for her future. Though not 
wealthy, he possessed a competence; and necessity alone 
would subject his only daughter to the drudgery of a school- 
room. Mr. Belmont's motto was : " Prepare a child, by 
education, for any emergency in life ; " and he acted upon it 
with reference to his own children. 

But Mrs. Wilmer found it very convenient to make this 
supposed purpose of Bertha's father the cause of her rapid 
advancement and mental superiority to her own daughter ; 
ignoring the truth that an ordinary capacity cannot be 
pushed into extraordinary acquirements. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 51 

Bertha entered the parlor, one clay, at "Oak Grove" — 
the title by which Colonel Wilmer's residence was distin- 
guished — for music-practice. She was allowed but three- 
quarters of an hour — a thing unheard of in other institu- 
tions; but the piano was a new one, just imported from 
Yankee-land, and Mrs. Wilmer was particularly tender of 
its polish and tone. 

She had practised but a little, when Mrs. Wilmer made 
her advent and exerted her powers to divert the pupil's 
attention by a display of newly-arrived paintings for copying 
in the " Academy." Bertha submitted patiently, a while, 
to the imposition ; but her time was expiring unimproved, 
and she knew she would not be permitted to extend it; 
and as her kind friend evinced no weariness or symptoms 
of cessation in elaborating upon the beauties of the water- 
colors before them, she turned quietly to the key-board, and 
gave her a pianissimo hint from its ivory, but without 
effect. Bertha was not to be drawn off again and cheated 
out of her full time, but she touched the keys softly, by way 
of respect for the lady's commenting voice. 

Mrs. Wilmer's passions became inflamed by ineffectual 
efforts to engage her undivided attention further, and she 
flounced out of the room, exclaiming wrathfully, " I believe 
you think a pie-anner (this was Mrs. Wilmer's style of pro- 
nouncing the instrument) is the greatest thing in the world ! " 

Bertha " believed " she thought her father would have to 
pay for the use of the instrument, whether she practised or 
not ; and she " believed " it to be her duty to him and her- 
self to improve her time. Child as she was, she blushed for 
the woman, forty years old, who had exposed such jealous 
weakness of mind for so trivial a cause. Our heroine left 
the parlor with eyes open to Mrs. Wilmer's true character. 



52 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

CHAPTER XL 

BERTHA'S TRIALS AT " THE ACADEMY." 

IT was a day of excitement at " the Academy," for the 
paints had arrived for Miss Watruff's pupils, and, girl- 
like, each one was eager to peep beneath the polished lids 
at the small bright cakes. But disappointment awaited 
each young heart, for a proclamation . was issued to the 
effect that the boxes would not be distributed until to- 
morrow. 

When Bertha arrived at the "Grove" next morning, the 
paints had all been dealt out, and she caught up the one 
designed for herself, aud smilingly drew back the lid with 
youthful eagerness. What a wreck met her astonished 
vision ! Not a single unbroken cake was discovered in the 
box, but crushed into tiny pieces, irregular and unmatched, 
they lay cracked and shivered in their small receptacles. 
Bertha was struck dumb, for a moment, while Dora and her 
friends looked on with cool indifference. 

" Why, what in the world ! — " was our heroine's ex- 
clamation. 

"They got broke coming on," Dora said, by way of 
apology for the wreck. 

" And are they all like mine? " Bertha asked, regretfully. 

Minnie Montrose broke forth, indignantly : 

"No! Dora Wilmer's hasn't a broken cake in it! — her 
cousin May's has but one, cracked across the middle ; and 
the next best is. her flatterer's, Alice Warding. Yours is 
the meanest in the whole lot, and mine and Ed's are first 
cousins to it ! " 

Bertha's quick mind grasped the truth in a moment. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 53 

Her lip curled slightly as she looked full into Dora's dull, 
wincing eyes, and said, sarcastically: 

"Strange that mine should be a total wreck, and Dora's 
wholly uninjured! " 

14 No ; it is n't a bit strange when you know the secret of 
it! " thundered Minnie. "The boxes have all been picked 
over, and the best put into theirs, and the scraps into yours. 
Don't you see ? " 

Bertha thought she did ; and the meanness of the deed 
scorched her sensibilities. She replaced the lid, and laid 
the box on Dora's desk, saying, firmly : 

"I won't have it Pa will order one for me from Tar- 
borough. I can't afford to pay as much for scraps as you 
do for a decent box." 

Away went Dora, May, and Alice towards the dwelling, 
after this indignant refusal of our heroine to accept what 
they had rejected, and meant to impose upon her ; their 
skirts flapping in the breeze, as they ran to bear the news 
to discomfited Mrs. Wilmer, who had aided and abetted in 
the intended cheat, and whose penurious soul shuddered 
with apprehension of losing the amount marked upon the 
broken and worthless box. She had not dreamed our 
heroine capable of such open rebellion against her moneyed 
authority, notwithstanding the memory she retained of the 
music-room. Bertha's deportment had ever been so gentle 
and respectful that the information of her positive declen- 
sion to submit to such shameful imposition startled her by 
the magnitude of Miss Belmont's audacity. 

During recess, a servant informed our heroine Mrs. Wil- 
mer desired an interview. She went — wholly unprepared 
for the storm that awaited her. 

From early childhood — that is, from the time Mr. Bel r 
mont located in the neighborhood — Bertha and Dora had 
been warm friends, as well as their parents, until Bertha's 
5* 



54 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

beauty and talents quite eclipsed the young heiress, as they 
verged upon womanhood, and a coolness sprang up between 
the female portion of the two houses, owing to the jealousy 
of Mrs. Wilmer. Col. Wilmer's admiration of talent waa 
far superior to his prejudice against Yankees ; and notwith- 
standing the disparity in their pecuniary circumstances, the 
two families were intimate friends and associates, until 
"Bertha the Beauty" — as she was designated by common 
consent — attained the age of fourteen. 

Bertha responded to Mrs. Wilmer's call ; and such a burst 
of abuse and violent anger never before broke above the 
defenceless head of an innocent, unsuspecting child. Our 
heroine was confounded by the unlooked-for tornado of pas- 
sion ; but she partially recovered her self-possession before 
the wild storm subsided in exhausted epithets. Mrs. Wil- 
mer vowed she should have the box, and threatened her 
with terrible punishment if she dared to refuse. Her father 
had ordered it for her, and she was n't going to lose the value 
of it for her (Bertha's) meanness. 

Bertha thought the " meanness " lay in another quarter ; 
but she simply reiterated her language to Dora, — who, with 
her two friends, was eavesdropping at the door, — and quite 
spiritedly assured Mrs. Wilmer she would not buy such a 
box of worthless scraps, that had been picked out of the 
others and put into hers. 

Bertha turned away, indignantly, to Mrs. Wilmer's aston- 
ishment, with a visible hint of spirit-scorn about her small 
mouth, and passed out of the wrathful presence, where she 
had stood during the raging of the waves, as Mrs. Wilmer 
had not honored her with even common politeness by offer- 
ing her a chair — stumbling over Dora as she opened the 
door to retire. 

At the close of the school that evening, while Bertha 
awaited her father's gig, to take her over the space of two 



55 

miles, home, Mrs. Wilmer visited "the Academy," and took 

particular pleasure in slighting and insulting our young 
heroine. Miss Watruff failed to show her decent respect 
in the presence of the rich woman, who, she knew, and for 
what reason, hated the poor pupil. She curried favor with 
Mrs. Wilmer by slighting Bertha. 

That was our heroine's last day at " Oak Grove Academy." 
She never entered the residence of Colonel Wilmer again. 

Mr. Belmont was a man of remarkable equanimity and 
generosity, but his patience was sorely tried by the system 
of annoyance and imposition practised upon his daughter. 
He firmly resolved she should not be subjected to it longer. 
He visited the Grove the day following, and declared his 
determination of discontinuing Bertha as a pupil. 

Colonel Wilmer expressed his regrets for the cause, and 
praised our heroine's talents in no stinted terms. The good 
old Colonel was a genuine admirer of the young girl ; and 
jealous, persecuting Mrs. Wilmer found no sympathy in 
her liege lord. 

Mrs. Wilmer was sadly disappointed by the result of her 
unfeeling and unwomanly conduct. She had thought to 
browbeat and bend Bertha to her purpose, and throw obsta- 
cles in the way of her advancement ; when, lo ! Greek had 
met Greek, and she had but impaired her own interest and 
reputation ; for even her wealth did not screen her from 
neighborly remarks privately uttered. 

Mr. Belmont now carried his daughter to La Violet Semi- 
nary, distant eighty miles westward, among the mountains. 



56 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY, 



CHAPTER XII. 



MR. REDMOND sank down upon the easy-chair, drawn 
up by Edalia for his accommodation, with a puzzled 
expression upon his good-natured face, while the niece 
seated herself upon a country-cushioned stool, at his feet, 
with one elbow resting upon his knee, and read : 

"La Violet Seminary, April 19th, 18 — . 
" My dear Edie : — I am tired — so tired. I am lonely — 
so lonely — sick, sorrowful, and half desperate! I wrote you 
weeks ago, but no word in reply has come to cheer my sad 
and suffering heart. I know the fault is not in you, my 
faithful, affectionate friend, and I 'm quite sure I know 
where it does lie. These people are afraid of losing me, 
or, rather, my father's gold, and intercept my letters. How 
do I know this ? I will tell you, some time. But where 
there 's a will there 's a way, and I 'm going to circumvent 
them — if I can. The postmaster here is as mean as the 
proprietor of this establishment, and that is fully enough 
for one human being ! I will post this myself, and if I get 
no reply, I will post something else. This you cannot com- 
prehend until I give you a verbal explanation. I have had 
but one letter from home since I came to this mean, miser- 
able, mercenary place. I have been sick ever since I put 
foot under this wretched roof. Pa has, doubtless, informed 
you of the submerging we got coming on ; for there is no 
sneaking with him. W. K. Wilmer and wife were over- 
turned in the same place ; and kept it concealed, instead of 
warning Pa of the way. We got the whole truth from the 
family who rescued them as well as us. Dear! dear! what 
poor apologies for men there are in this world ! That duck- 
ing process gave me a severe cold, from which I am yet suf- 
fering, not having received a particle of care from this 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 57 

nnsympathizing, heartless family. I could hear it better if 

I could hoar from home; but I was weak enough to betray 
the fact to one of the pupils here, that I had written Pa to 
come for me, as my health rendered me unfit for study. I 
have not received a letter from any one since that confiden- 
tial confession. Can you not imagine the cause ? That girl 
— Angeline Daveling, of Petersburg — drew me out, by false 
pretences of like home-sickness, tender sympathy, and dis- 
like for the people and place, and then sneaked out and 
betrayed me to Mrs. Browzer ! I've grown a little wiser, 
if not happier, since I came here, and my organ of cautious- 
ness has developed somewhat. That girl is an ugly-looking 
concern physically, and with my knowledge of her deformed 
soul, just imagine what a mortal scarecrow I see daily at the 
Seminary! I hate meanness! The very atmosphere that 
surrounds a mean mortal nauseates me; and, goodness 
knows, we have little else in this horrid home ! We are 
half starved as well as frozen. We are made to sleep in the 
attic without a spark of fire, and shiver and shake from 
sunrise till breakfast, with snow three feet deep mocking us 
through the loophole of a window, from the bleak, desolate 
world without this dreary, dreadful den. And yet there are 
pleasant, fire-lighted chambers under this roof that might be 
made home to the pupils, if the hearts of the proprietors 
were not wholly of stone. Then we are fed on black tea, 
with half a thimbleful of milk (when we get any), and stale 
loaf-bread without butter. Sometimes w T e have black mo- 
lasses and one biscuit for dessert. If we venture to accept 
a small piece of ham for supper, we are told by Miss Madge 
Browzer — who teaches painting — in her coarse, masculine 
voice, that "ladies don't eat meat." And yet when a parent 
visits a pupil here, honey and butter overflow, every luxury 
abounds that can tempt the appetite until they depart ; then 
we poor mortals have "to pay dear for the whistle" the pro- 
prietors blew during the visitor's stay. We are always glad 
to see a strange face in the dining-room ; for we know we 
shall get one more good meal! I've promised my best 
dress to a servant here, to supply me w T ith dry bread during 
the session, in order to save me from starvation. And this 
is the place Dora Wilmer suffered me to come to, when one 
friendly, generous word of warning would have spared me 



58 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

all the suffering her mother's jealousy and injustice have 
subjected me to. I could have learned so much there, if 
Mrs. Wilmer had acted the woman, and not the weak- 
minded, envious child. I have learned but little here; I'm 
too sick and miserable for school-duties. I do try to study 
and improve my time, and " finish my course " here ; for I 
know if I return before the close of the session, it will re- 
joice my enemies at "the Academy." Mrs. Wilmer well 
knows the character of this Seminary ; she knows one poor 
pupil was suffered to die here before the Browzers would 
inform her parents of their child's illness, lest they should 
lose the money for her board and Dr. Browzer's medical 
bill! And yet, should I be forced to abscond from this 
earthly purgatory, Mrs. Wilmer would not seek to justify 
the act, from facts positive and her daughter's sad experi- 
ence, but turn it to my disadvantage and injury. This I 
know, else I would have run away (don't start at the ugly 
term until you are placed in my position) rather than endure 
all that is imposed upon pupils in this heartless place. My 
poor teacher yearns to escape from this iron cage as eagerly 
as her young pupils, and will fly the first opportunity. She 
is forced to share our fate in the attic, and fare, and her 
sunken blue eyes fill with tears at the sound of the sweet 
word " home." Just think of putting a teacher in a car- 
petless attic without fire — and the room-mate a housemaid ! 
And yet, when she first came, a lower chamber, cosy and 
clean, was hers, with the Browzer girls for room-mates ; but 
when the novelty wore aw T ay, they hustled her up to the 
garret! She is all I have to love, here — all that loves me, 
otherwise I could not have endured it till now. I could not 
live without love. I 'd rather die and be buried than live 
alone and unloved. Miss Herbert is a dear, sweet girl — 
only eighteen. I lie down in her arms and cry, w T ith her 
soft voice trying to soothe me, when I know her heart is 
weeping as freely as my eyes! Like her pupils, she looks 
and longs for letters from home and friends, that never come. 
This establishment, Ed darling, is like a partridge-pen, 
has a fine lure to the door that is mighty easy to enter, but 
everlastingly hard to get out of! I promised to give you a 
description of the place and people. I fulfilled it in my 
first : but that has never been received, I feel confident. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 59 

Perhaps this will share the same fate; but it's a relief to 
write, so here 's a repetition. 

La Violet Seminary 

18 a lonely, lost-looking institution, sits back from the road 
half a mile, with wild, nightmare woods hemming it in on 
all desolate sides. I feel as though I had been dropped, in 
a torpid state, from the cold, gray sky, and woke to find my- 
self in a big bleak hole, with a black rim all around, too 
high to afford the slightest possibility of escape. Not a 
habitation is visible wherever the eye turns ; all is monot- 
onous and melancholy from this lonely prison-house. 

The days are one long-drawn, dragging sigh, and the 
evenings are horrible with Guinea quacks until dark. You 
know my abhorrence of Guinea fowls — their doleful "ke- 
whack ! ke-whack ! " always sounds " oh, death ! oh, death ! " 
to me ; and, as if to render this dreadful spot more terrible, 
those funeral fowls are too numerous to mention, in this 
inclosure, and make night hideous after the dreary day. 
All is sombre and solemn; even the negroes have long faces 
and lonesome airs. 

Dr. Browzer is an easy, indolent man, who delights in 
backgammon, and corn in a liquid state. Miss Daveling 
softly asserts, it has been his habit to begin at the head of 
the stairs and roll to the bottom under peculiar circum- 
stances ; but I have not, as yet, witnessed the undignified 
performance. He advises his boarders to imbibe freely of 
cold water every morning before breakfast, which evidences 
his kindness of heart and most commendable charity, well 
knowing that is the only practicable method of filling up for 
the day. 

Mrs. Browzer is a yellow T -faced hypocrite of the first order, 
about forty-five years old ; sports pink ribbons on her dress- 
cap, and affects youthful gaiety and graces. She talks sugar 
and cream one moment, and the next shakes her fist slyly, 
through the window, at a little nigger in the yard. I 've 
witnessed that performance. Her voice is soft and mellow 
as May moonlight, and one would think her a saint, until 
they caught the sinner at her sly tricks. It is said they 
were once wealthy, and I wish they had continued so — I 
should be happier, I 'm sure. 



60 BERTHA, TIIE BEAUTY. 

Reua Browzer, the second girl, (the oldest is married and 
gone,) gives lessons on the harp, and plays the violin with 
her left hand. I thought her pretty and good, until she 
abused me for weeping, when my heart was almost broken, 
instead of comforting me with kind words and womanly 
sympathy. I shall never think Rena Browzer handsome 
and good again, if I live a thousand years. It 's the pure, 
gentle heart only that makes a lovely face, say what they 
will of physical charms. She is soon to be married to her 
sister's brother-in-law, and I only wish he could have 
heard her abuse me, — if he has any sense of honor, it would 
save him from similar abuse in the matrimonial state. I 
sincerely hope she may get her match, when she marries 
him ; and if she does, he will be fire and tow, or a magazine 
with a lighted match under it ! 

Madge Browzer is distressingly homely, and considers 
herself a beauty ! — wears very long curls on either side of 
her fat, rough face (put up in bits of paper in damp days), 
and a little pig-tail knot behind, that gives her stately head 
a most laughal}le conformation. She adores dress, and talks 
dictionary from A to izzard. It would be exceedingly inter- 
esting to hear her and Mr. Peterroy Simpkins engaged in 
conversation; indeed, it would be as good as a farce/' (Mr. 
Redmond here laid himself back, and shook his sides with 
suppressed laughter.) "She's sarcastic and supercilious and 
cold as an iceberg to all but the rich, unless flattered into 
warmth and smiles by one as poor as herself. Angeline 
Daveling understands the art of sweetening her vain lady- 
ship to perfection. It makes me sick to witness the deceitful 
creature's wiles. But Miss Daveling is compensated for the 
labor of "soft-soaping" her, by the gracious gift of a cold 
biscuit before dinner, which gratified Madge, in a spasm of 
generosity, actually rewards her with ! Then Angeline runs 
up to her attic, and laughs, jubilantly, at "the nice way she 
put the feather over Miss Vanity's gray eye ! " wholly un- 
thinking of the disgust and contempt with which she her- 
self is regarded by her " partners in distress." She 's the 
most treacherous girl I ever knew. Madge dearly loves 
to talk of beaux, and hints loudly of " a certain young 
doctor in the Navy," which is none other than Bertrand 
Cobler, formerly of our section ! Just think of Dr. Cobler, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 61 

who courted Tolly Wilmer for her money, marrying a 
poor teacher] If Madge owned fifty negroes and a thousand 
acres of land, there 'd be Bome hope for her, in that quarter ; 
but if vanity could compensate for lack of wealth, she \l 
stand a fair chance anyhow! She walks like a peacock in 
full strut, ami I often think it's a pity she does n't look at her 
toes, — " Oh wad some power the giftie gie us," etc. She '11 
make a sweet wife for some poor soul, if one should happen 
to bite at her bait, and ingulf the barbed hook of matrimony. 

Ella Browzer, the youngest of the family, is a grown-up 
baby — too young to be mean and mercenary, and too large 
to be considered a child. She's much larger than I am, 
though two years younger. She plays in the dirt with the 
little niggers, ami has no more feeling for her parents' 
starving and freezing boarders, than the great cat she hugs 
and kisses continually ! Ella is the handsomest one of the 
family, and has decidedly the best heart — would make a 
noble woman, if she were properly trained. 

How do you like the portraits hung up in the Seminary, 
Ed dear ? Fine, are they not, for the daily contemplation 
of a poor, sick birdling, taken from its nest-home of love 
and care for the first time t I shall go mad, if I remain 
here much longer — I know 7 I shall ! I 'm half crazy now ; 
and but for fear of Mrs. Wilmer's malicious tongue, I 'd 
risk my reputation (which is dearer far than life) by escap- 
ing secretly from this unfeeling, soulless den. If you should 
happen to get this, by all that is merciful, help me to escape. 
I 've tried hard to learn enough of the theory of music, to 
practise without a teacher, and I think I can get on without 
one. Anyhow, as eager as I am for knowledge, I 'd rather 
rely upon chance for obtaining it, than remain here a day 
longer. I might manage to live through the session, on 
dry bread and black tea, if there were feeling hearts and 
kind words to help me on. But to be caged up here, in a 
sunless hole, and not even permitted to read a line from 
home, is more than human nature can bear much longer. 
I " 

Mr. Redmond never heard the few remaining lines of 
Bertha's long letter, for Edalia broke hopelessly down here, 
and cried heartily for both sympathy and spite ! 
6 



62 

The indignant old man sprang up right nimbly, and 
knocked his fists together by way of emphasis, while his 
sober eyes flashed. 

"The soulless imps !" he growled ; "she shan't stay there 
two days longer, by thunder ! If Belmont don't start for 
her to-morrow, I '11 go myself, by Jupiter ! " 



CHAPTER XIII. 



POOR Bert ! — poor little thing ! " 
It was Minnie who uttered it, as she read the letter 
next morning, up in Edalia's chamber. Minnie raved in 
characteristic style, as she blew her small nose and wiped 
her wet eyes. 

" I wish they had me to deal with ! " was her closing 
remark. 

Minnie had no idea she would have found more than her 
match, if they had. Bert w T as too easy, she said. " She 'd 
defy the whole Browzer tribe, with a good many to help 
them, to keep her in such a den, if she wanted to get out. 
Old Mrs. Wilmer might talk, and welcome." 

She comprehended now the full import of the mysterious 
smile that hovered around Dora's wide, pale mouth, when 
the news of Bertha's departure for La Violet Seminary was 
heralded at "the Academy." She was glad Bertha was 
going to be punished for being her superior in talent ! 

Then she hurried down the stairs, at Mr. Redmond's 
call, and went over to the low brown house with the long 
piazza. But Mr. Belmont was gone, and Mrs. Belmont was 



BERTH A, THE BEAUTY. 63 

in tears over a heap of letters that had arrived from Bertha 
the evening previous, and should have been distributed 
along the weeks since she left her home. They had all 
come in one mail ! And why ? Bertha had absconded 
from the Seminary, and there was no longer any necessity 
for withholding her letters; they all came in a batch; and 
Mrs. Belmont was weeping for the sufferings of her daughter 
that they revealed. Dr. Browzer had dispatched, a mes- 
senger to inform Mr. Belmont of his daughter's secret de- 
parture, who had arrived last night, and Mr. Belmont had 
hurried away at daylight, to bring the runaway home. He 
smiled over the thought of the daring spirit that would not 
submit to oppression and wrong. 

Edalia's letter had arrived in the bundle over which Mrs. 
Belmont was grieving. 

"That 's the secret, Ed ! " broke forth Minnie, — " your 
letter is dated April 19th, and this is the second of May. It 
ought to have come a week ago ; and you would n't have 
got it at all if Bert had n't run off — poor thing ! " 

" I say, blast the whole kit and posse ! " growled Uncle 
Ned ; " I mean to offer for Congress, and hire the people to 
elect me ; and wdien I get there among the swell-heads (who 
do nothing but quarrel and fight and disgrace the country), 
I '11 offer a resolution prohibitory of all seminaries. They 're 
treacherous traps, anyhow, and only kept by skinflints and 
broken-down, heartless high-flyers — by Jupiter! " 

"You shall have my vote, then, without pay, Uncle 
Ned," laughed Minnie. 

" We might have been spared this, if Mrs. Wilmer had 
been generous," said Mrs. Belmont. " Dora knew 7 the hard 
lot of a pupil in that institution, and yet suffered us to 
be entrapped — disregarding the commandment, 'Do unto 
others as ye would they should do unto you.' " 

Mr. Redmond spoke up, warmly: 



64 

"Ah, my clear madam, if they knew enough of the Bible 
to repeat a single passage, your daughter would not have 
been constrained, by imposition and little-souled envy, to 
leave the school at the Grove." 

" ' Tlie Academy,' Uncle Ned," corrected Minnie, with a 
twinkle of her merry eye. 

"Ugh! ugh!" growled the old man; "Academy in a 
nut-shell ! I say, hang the thing that don't equal in dig- 
nity and size the name it bears. You may call a dog a 
lion, but it won't change the nature of the beast. You 
can't make a mountain out of a mole-hill; and it's simply 
ridiculous to give high-sounding titles to low-sailing crafts, 
like plain Peter converted into Peterroy — ha! he! haw!" 

Mrs. Belmont smiled ; Minnie clapped her hands and 
danced to the music of a merry laugh ; while a rich blush 
brightened Edalia's cheeks, beneath the significant glances 
of the three. 

" By the way, Mrs. Belmont," continued the fun-loving 
old man, " Peter got sacked, last night ; even his grand 
name could n't save him ! " 

" Or his big words!" chimed in Minnie. 

" Then somebody has an enemy for life," said Mrs. Bel- 
mont, quietly. " Peter will never forgive the deep sin of 
being rejected — beware of his vengeance!" 

Mr. Redmond threw his head back for a strong laugh, 
and unconsciously bumped it heavily against the buffet. 

"Ugh ! ouch !" he groaned, rubbing his gray hairs stoutly 
with both hands; "that concern's harder 'n my head, by 
Jupiter! Blamed if it hain't knocked all the laugh out'n 
me!" 

There was a fine concert of mirth at this remark, which 
realized the good old man's hopes. He had found Mrs. 
Belmont in tears, and had resolved to leave her in smiles. 

Mr. Redmond was a truly benevolent man. 



B E R T II A , T II E BEAUTY. G5 

CHAPTER XIV. 

MR. REDMOND STARTLES EDALIA. 

EDALIA was equipped for a visit to the church-yard — 
her daily resort since the soul-harrowing intelligence 
of Charles Chester's engagement — and was descending the 
steps with a sentimental "let concealment like a worm i' 
the bud " air, that she had acquired to perfectibility, from 
sympathy for the unfortunate heroines of the most fashion- 
able novels and light literature with which her chamber 
abounded, when the cheerful voice of Mr. Redmond issued 
from his office-window, and aroused her from a pensive 
" prey on her damask cheek " revery. 

"Where to now, little gad-about?" 

" Only for a ramble through the green woods, uncle." 

" Let me go too ? " 

" I don't care, sir." 

" You don't care if I don't, eh ? " 

" Ha ! uncle, I don't care if you do ! The pleasure of 
your company is respectfully solicited," and she dropped a 
stage courtesy. 

They wandered down beneath the young foliage of the 
dark, still grove, towards the little brown chapel ; and with 
an expression she had never before seen in his mild blue 
eyes, he hesitated at the little wicket and invited her to 
enter. 

He led her to a slender grave in a retired nook of the old 
yard, beneath an ancient and luxuriant willow, whose long 
thick fringe drooped gracefully around, forming a green can- 
opy about it. The marble slab that chronicled the death 
of the pale sleeper beneath was stained and darkened by 
6* E 



GO BEETHA, THE BEAUTY. 

the winds and waters of many bygone years. She brushed 
the accumulated dust and leaves from the niches made by 
the sculptor's chisel, and exposed two tiny white angels, 
with plumed wings, smiling over a broken rose-bud. Be- 
neath was written : 

Sacred to the Memory of 

EVA ELDON, 

AGED nineteen years. 

Mr. Redmond watched the process of ablution silently, 
then sank upon the white stone. Edalia sat beside him. 
It was here she had designed to come when she left her 
home. This was the spot she had selected for her last, long 
rest, beside the fair young victim of a hopeless love, — fit 
spot, she fancied, in her sentimental sighing, for one simi- 
larly fated ! Beneath, slept the mother of Walter Eldon, 
and above, sorrowed the destined bride of her son — if the 
assertion of a bug was to be accredited. But she enjoyed a 
romantic anticipation of fading prematurely away, like a 
young wild-rose in summer-time, and experienced no little 
satisfaction from the indulgence of so interesting a denoue- 
ment of a constant heart's mournful love history ! 

From such lachrymal dreamings she was awakened by 
the inquiry : 

" Do you know, Edie, the story of Eva Eldon ? " 

" I have heard, sir, she was the victim of a father's 
cupidity ; that, with her heart irrevocably given to one, she 
was forced to bestow her hand upon another, and died, a 
sacrifice upon the altar of avarice." 

" And who was the loved one ? " 

" I don't know, sir. I have been informed he left his 
native for a foreign land, to avoid beholding her the wife 
of another. It seems to me such devotion would have justi- 
fied filial disobedience. Don't you think so, uncle?" 



G7 

Mr. Redmond rose and examined a small blossom ana- 
lytically. 

"Circumstances sometimes justify seeming inconsistencies. 
Eva Walter's disobedience would have been unpardonable 
in the sight of God and man." 

"Did you know the loved one, uncle?" 

" I knew him well — a penniless aspirant to the heart and 
hand of the beautiful heiress, who has since acquired that 
which would have entitled him to favor in the estimation 
of the penurious parent — wealth and celebrity. As you 
know, Eva Walter was the playmate of my boyhood, and 
your mother's faithful friend. A recent occurrence induced 
me to take you to this grave, it being the most suitable spot 
to apprise you of a contemplated arrangement. I am pledged 
to the sainted sleeper beneath this stone to be a father to 
her orphan boy while life is granted me, and it is for you 
to thwart or facilitate a propitious opportunity." 

He placed in her hand an open letter. She opened and 
read: 

"Randolph Macon College, April 27, 18 — . 

" My dear Sir : — A stray waif on the winds of time, 
I cross the line of minority undecided what course to pursue 
for the future, though the natural tendency of my mind is 
to jurisprudence. 

" To adopt the profession of the law, as a resource in the 
struggle of life, I have an inclination, but would consult you 
with reference to the expediency of carrying into effect this 
contemplated purpose, before entering upon the study. 

" Four years of college life may have exhausted my little 
patrimony, but with a heart firm to do and to dare all that 
is right and just, I look into the labyrinthine future with a 
fearless eye ; and though destitute of all but native strength 
and firm reliance upon an overruling Power, the watchword 
of my heart will be, as I glance beyond the veil that drapes 
the battle-ground of years beyond — onward ! 

"My respectful regards to Miss E. ; and hoping to be 



08 

advised by you relative to the feasibility of the plan pro- 
posed, at your earliest convenience, I am, dear sir, 

Your obedient and indebted 

Walter E. Eldon. 
" To Edward Redmond, Esq." 

Edalia folded the missive, and returned it in silence. 

"Well, Ed?" 

"Well, uncle, what do you propose?" 

" To receive Walter Eldon as a law-student in my office ; 
and thereby avoid the incurrence of further pecuniary lia- 
bilities." 

Edalia started, and flushed, warmly. The vexations of 
the first of May recurred to her mind, and she saw, in fancy, 
a long catalogue of similar annoyances, like land-marks 
upon the wayside of the future, to be combated, inevitably, 
under such an arrangement as that suggested. 

"Well, Edalia?" 

"Consult your own feelings, uncle. I beg to preserve a 
deferential neutrality on this point." 

" Without your concurrence, my child, I shall carry into 
effect no plan that will operate so materially upon your 
domestic life. I must have your hearty acquiescence, before 
introducing a new member into our little home-circle. Con- 
sider the motive that prompts me to this end, and let 
humanity decide. Walter's circumstances are limited, and 
without this arrangement the remainder of his little posses- 
sions will be expended, in order to qualify him for the pro- 
fession ; and he will then go out penniless into an unsympa- 
thizing world, to brave the disappointments and delays 
incident to the opening career of a young disciple of the 
legal fraternity." 

" I have decided, uncle ; let it be as you desire, but — " 

"But what, darling?" 

She looked up. His generous face was all a-glow with 



69 

gratified love, and the old characteristic twinkle had re- 
sumed its sway in his smiling blue eyes, in evident anticipa- 
tion of the unsaid thought. 

" But I have one request, uncle, which, if granted, I shall 
feel no opposition to your beneficent design, and shall enter 
heartily into all plans that will redound to the interest of 
Walter." 

" Granted before heard, Ed ; name it, dear." 

" Then, sir, never advert to that foolish affair associated 
with the month of May, and heathenish superstition, and I 
am ready to receive and regard Walter as a dear friend, 
and brother" 

He took her in his arms, and kissed her forehead. 

" My child, your happiness is my first care, and whatever 
hopes I may cherish for you in the future, relative to mat- 
ters of affinity, I shall never essay to bias or constrain you 
in affairs of the heart. I leave you free to act, only hoping 
my darling girl may not commit the grand error of many 
of her sex — mistake romantic passion for genuine love" 

He spoke this with an emphasis that recalled it to memory 
long years after, when she had learned to comprehend its 
import. 

And so it ended. They turned from the old hushed gar- 
den of the dead, and wended homeward, in a gorgeous sun- 
set of richest crimson and gold, and a sweet breeze refresh- 
ingly astir on the fragrant evening air. 

Mr. Belmont and Bertha, sunken-eyed and emaciated, 
drove up to the low brown house with the long piazza, as 
Mr. Redmond and Edalia emerged from the deep grove 
into the highway. The two girls uttered a glad cry, and 
sprang into each other's arms. Uncle Ned rubbed his hands, 
and chuckled. 



70 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

CHAPTER XV. 

BERTHA TAKES FRENCH LEAVE OF THE SEMINARY. 

THERE was confusion at La Violet Seminary. Miss 
Belmont was missing, and the alarm was sounded 
throughout the Institution. The three boarders (all that 
the establishment could boast) gathered up in the attic and 
whispered over the mysterious disappearance of their late 
" fellow-sufferer." Bertha had run away, they felt confident, 
but they dared not breathe it aloud. They wished them- 
selves as " well off" as the daring one, if she were not cap- 
tured and brought back. The young trio did not know 
what recent additional provocation their late companion 
had received to incite her to this bold act. 

Bertha was sick — too sick to descend to the school-room; 
mentally and physically, she was wholly unfit for study. 
Our heroine had grown thin to emaciation. Her health, 
delicate from early childhood, had been wholly uncared for 
by those to whom her fond father had intrusted her, and 
her deathly white face and faded eyes sadly betrayed their 
neglect. Then, too, she was heart-sick with hope deferred, 
longing to hear from the loved ones at home. Day after 
day she had waited and yearned for the letters she knew had 
come ; for Mr. Belmont was Postmaster, and no delay from 
careless officials would keep her waiting in vain. But day 
after day dragged wearily on, and no loving words came 
from the dear ones afar to cheer her wretched state. Bertha 
was fast verging upon desperation, ripe for any rash act, 
when she saw Mr. Wetter, the Postmaster, in close conver- 
sation with Dr. Browzer, the day of her elopement. She 
felt an intuitive conviction that she had been the subject of 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 71 

such curncst discussion, when Mrs. Browzer, with a mysteri- 
ous smile upon her yellow face, informed Iiena and Madge 
that Mr. Wetter had " come to consult the doctor upon a 
point of law." Our heroine had quick perceptions; she 
read the silent language of the glances interchanged between 
the three. Bertha went up to her gloomy and bare attic 
with a sickness at heart that she had never realized before. 
She saw her situation was hopeless, unless she relied upon 
her own bravery and cunning to improve it. Should she 
run away? Her pride revolted at the suggestion, and a 
thought of Mrs. Wilmer's malicious tongue held her unde- 
cided. But then, human nature could not endure such 
imposition and misery much longer. She should die there, 
without speedy relief, like the poor girl of whom Angeline 
Daveling had informed her — die there, in that dismal den, 
among unfeeling, cruel strangers, and never behold her dear 
parents and brother again ! She wrung her small hands in 
an agony. If she could get a letter to some one, she might 
be rescued ; but that was impossible — she was wholly in 
the power of soulless, mercenary wretches. Even Edalia 
had not responded ; doubtless her letter had been read by 
her persecutors. Bertha knew her father would visit her, 
without some satisfaction from the Seminary ; but suspense 
was killing her — she should not live till he arrived. She 
went to the puny looking-glass, that served the boarders for 
a mirror, and examined her face. It was sunken and sallow, 
and great blue rings surrounded her heavy eyes. She was 
walking the floor in a state of distraction, the bitter tears 
streaming down her cheeks, wdien Mrs. Browzer entered the 
attic-chamber and ordered her to go immediately to the 
school-room. 

Our heroine sobbingly assured her she was " too sick and 
miserable — it was impossible for her to study. Please ex- 
cuse her to-day." 



72 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Mrs. Browzer would "do no such thing. It was her duty 
to see that Miss Belmont improved her time," (Bertha 
wished she would be as careful of duty in other respects,) 
" she would not have such foolishness about her ; she ought 
to be ashamed of such childish conduct." (Bertha thought 
Mrs. Browzer ought to be ashamed of the meanness of inter- 
cepting letters.) 

Rena now entered to second her mother, which she did in 
such sharp terms that Mrs. Browzer reproved her gently for 
her language. 

Rena " could n't help it, mother ; she was so disgusted to 
see a grown young lady (our heroine was sixteen — in ap- 
pearance not more than twelve) conduct herself in this 
manner. She ought to be made to behave herself, and go 
down to the Academy." 

Rena flounced out of the room, with a scowl upon her 
brow, and her stinging words rankling in a yearning and 
deeply suffering heart. If Rena and her mother had uttered 
kind and sympathizing words, the poor heart would have 
been comforted, and better prepared for duty ; and the repu- 
tation of their Seminary would not have suffered by an act 
to which their heartlessness impelled our heroine. 

Mrs. Browzer soon followed her frowning offspring, with 
the authoritative declaration that Bertha "should, go," and 
commanded her, imperatively, to "prepare herself for the 
school-room instantly ! " 

Bertha looked at her as she went out, with haughty head 
high up, and ribbons fluttering from her cap, and wondered 
if that woman had any soulf She thought it possible that 
a just and righteous God might have created some human 
forms destitute of an immortal principle, knowing, in His 
infinite wisdom, they would be damned eternally if He fa- 
vored them with a spark of divinity. 

Bertha only partially obeyed Mrs. Browzer — she went, 



but not to the school-room. She went from her dark, cold, 
miserable attic in the direction indicated by her tormentor, 
and she never returned. Her indecision was ended — her 
purpose was fixed. She would have died in the woods, sooner 
than return to that place of torment. 

Bertha Belmont was a timid, retiring girl — easily led by 
love, birt not to be driven by harshness. Her sense of honor 
rendered her obstinate, when dealt with unjustly ; but 
through her affections, she was pliant and yielding as wax. 
She was too quiet and reserved to be easily read. Her modest, 
gentle deportment gave the impression of cowardly weakness, 
until meanness developed her latent powers. As she had 
written to Edalia, she " despised meanness" and she " could 
not live without love." Mrs. Browzer had thought to frighten 
her into subjection. She discovered her error when too late 
to repair it. 

Bertha went around the Academy, instead of into it. It 
was not an unusual route for the girls, and she escaped 
observation. She went on and on soberly, until a friendly 
hedge shut her out from the prison she had left forever; 
then her sober pace quickened into surprising velocity. On 
and on she flew, she knew not whither — she only thought 
of escape from the lion's den. Our brave heroine scrambled 
over a worm fence, and found herself in the black rim of 
woods that had so long shut her in from the feeling world. 
She breathed freer, but slackened not her pace — she was 
yet too near the dreaded Institution. 

Bertha was on the point of congratulating herself upon 
her escape, when — horror of horrors! — she found she had 
lost a prized jewel, containing a lock of precious hair, and 
her feet lost their swiftness — her heart sank like lead in her 
panting bosom. She could not proceed without an effort to 
regain it. Night was coming on, and the woods looked dark 
and gloomy, but our heroine's spirit was too strong to suc- 
7 



74 

cumb to slight difficulties. Bertha turned to retrace her 
steps in search of the lost treasure. She had been taught 
from babyhood to trust in an overruling Providence, and to 
.pray to " Our Father, who art in heaven ; " and the strongest 
and most comprehensive language she could command came 
from her heart as she petitioned the Lord to " prosper her 
way." Bertha had well-nigh despaired of success, because 
of the thicket through which she had passed, and was on the 
point of abandoning the search, when her eyes fell upon the 
prized jewel half hidden in dry leaves. She grasped it 
eagerly, and her small feet flew onward with a strength and 
swiftness that would have astonished one who beheld her 
little, sickly-looking form. Bertha had lost time to make 
up, and she made it with deeper gratitude in her palpitating 
heart, than she had ever felt in her life before. On and on 
she went through the wild woods, firmly believing the Lord 
would lead her right, since He had providentially returned 
her treasure. Finally she struck into a pig-path — she knew 
not where it might lead, but she followed it ; there was surely 
a habitation not far distant. A stately residence at length 
shone through the trees, and an old negro in an ox-cart 
eyed her narrowly as she followed the pig-path. 

Earnestly as she longed for rest and shelter, our heroine 
had not one thought of seeking it in the wealthy-looking 
mansion. It reminded her of Mrs. Wilmer's home, and she 
felt a secret conviction she would find no sympathy there. 
She knew not how far she had come from the hated Semi- 
nary ; perhaps this was one of the Browzer associates, who 
would send her back, if she applied there for protection. 
She quickened her steps to widen the distance between her 
and the aristocratic residence. The little path led into the 
highway. She looked around her on all sides with mortal 
fear lest she should encounter the Doctor or Mr. Wetter. 
Either would have been fatal. 



75 

Bertha longed for one glimpse of an humble-looking house 
— a low brown house with a long piazza, would have over- 
joyed her anxious heart. She did not believe all the rich 
to be destitute of sympathy and human kindness : Mr. Red- 
mond and Dr. Montrose were shining exceptions. Neither 
did she think all the poor were generous and good : Dr. 
Browzer's family were sufficient proofs to the contrary. But 
in her friendless and forlorn condition, our heroine would 
rather trust to an humble home for comfort and security. 
And such a home now presented itself to her faded brown 
eyes. Bertha approached it fearlessly, with a presenti- 
ment of good. 

A mild-eyed, matronly woman received her kindly, and 
listened to the story our heroine related, with evident sym- 
pathy in her motherly eyes. 

" Poor thing ! " were her first words, as the young girl 
ended the tale of her wrongs and sufferings at the Seminary, 
and asked for shelter and protection. 

Our heroine's firmness deserted her at the voice of kind- 
ness, — she broke completely down, and cried for very joy. 
A feeling of home, so long a stranger to her heart, came 
over her warmly at the motherly sound. 

Mrs. Davin soothed her with true womanly kindness, and 
Bertha grew calm and strong beneath the reviving influence 
of a sympathizing soul. The good lady promised her pro- 
tection, until Mr. Belmont could be advised of her situ- 
ation . 



76 BERTHA ; THE BEAUTY. 

CHAPTER XVI. 

PROVIDENCE SMILES ON OUR HEROINE. 

THE Davin family, to whose care a kind Providence had 
led our friendless and homeless heroine, consisted of 
five members — parents, two children, a son and daughter, 
and a young grandson, whose mother, the daughter of Ber- 
tha's kind friends, slept quietly beneath the green coverlet 
of Spring. 

Mr. Davin was a generous - hearted, humorous man, of 
much wealth and little show. Bertha was surprised to find 
there were far greater riches in the unassuming home she had 
chosen than in the stately mansion she had shunned. She 
learned also that the inmates of that imposing residence were 
associates of the Browzer family, who would, undoubtedly, 
have returned her to her den, had she applied to them for 
protection. Like the Browzers, they were people who made 
a desperate effort to " keep up appearances," and such per- 
sons invariably possess a lean soul. People of fallen for- 
tunes, arising from extravagance or intemperance, starve 
the mind to tinsel the body; while honorable persons in 
reduced circumstances accommodate themselves to their 
condition, and wear an exterior corresponding with their 
depleted purse. Bertha shuddered at the bare thought of 
the great house, with its superficial occupants that she had 
providentially shunned. 

Dr. Davin, the son, had but recently returned from col- 
lege. His manly, generous face bore ample testimony to 
his relationship with the noble woman who had received and 
comforted our unhappy, absconded heroine. His mild blue 
eyes filled with sympathizing tears as he listened silently to 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 77 

the story of the poor girl's sufferings at the Seminary re- 
hearsed by Mrs. Davin. Bertha felt sure of protection from 
her enemies, as she looked upon the firm, yet feeling face of 
the true-hearted young doctor. 

But for one circumstance, which remains to be revealed 
in the future, our young heroine's grateful and susceptible 
heart would have remained in the home of her newly found 
friends, when her wasted form and wan face had passed from 
it forever. But Bertha Belmont was not one to change 
easily. Love with her was not merely one of life's incidents* 
but the epoch of an existence. 

Lily Davin was her brother's peer, and worthy of her pa- 
rentage. Lily had been a pupil at the Seminary, and could 
vouch for Bertha's veracity from actual experience. Bertha 
learned more of the Browzer antecedents and surroundings, 
and the reputation of their Seminary, than she had known 
when she assumed the responsibility of taking French leave 
of it. Providence could not have directed her to a better 
or more desirable refuge, than the unassuming home of the 
wealthy family, who scorned superficial show, and hypo- 
critical pretenders. Bertha also found she had run two 
miles through wild, strange woods, to escape the cruelties of 
a fashionable boarding-school. 

They were on the eve of retiring the first night of 
Bertha's unceremonious introduction to the amiable family, 
when a loud fist-knock at the door of the country home, 
summoned Mr. Davin ; and our heroine caught the words 
from the new-comer : 

" Is ye got ary strange young leddy wid ye, massy?" 
Bertha's face grew whiter — her faith failed her, momen- 
tarily ; but a glance at her friends reassured her. 

The old negro, sent out from the Seminary in search qf 
the missing pupil, followed Mr. Davin, tq the parlor-door, 
and poked his black head through to observe Bertha. 



BEAUTY. 

" Yes, sah ; dat 's de young leddy, shore ! Done run off 
'bout two 'clock frum de Sem'na' fur sart'n, massy ! We 
niggers bin lookin' arter 'er ever sense school broke, sah ; 
mighty big fuss up dare 'bout 'er, fur shore ! " 

His white eyes and teeth shone brightly, with a broad, 
satisfied smile. 

Bertha did not recognize the old man, but she requested 
him to inform her friends at the Institution that she was 
both safe and well, and to feel no further concern about her, 
for she would never return to the Seminary alive. The old 
negro responded : 

" Yes, Miss, I '11 tell 'em dat same. I 's mighty glad I 
done foun' ye, honey, fur shore ! " He ducked his black 
head, and pulled his forelock respectfully, and smilingly 
disappeared. 

Bertha slept sweetly under Mr. Davin's hospitable roof 
that night, with a heart full of gratitude to God for the 
friends He had raised up to her in a time of sorest need, 
and a fervent prayer upon her pale lips for those dear, kind 
friends. 

Next morning early, Dr. Browzer presented himself at 
Mr. Davin's, and requested an interview with his late pupil. 
Bertha trembled universally as Mr. Davin informed her 
of the visitor's desire. She had not anticipated this ; she 
now feared being taken, vi et armis, back to the hated Semi- 
nary, and begged to decline the interview. 

" Don't you be afraid, child," said the good old man ; " he 
shan't take you out o' my house, while I 'm in it, by jing ! 
Nobody shall have you against your will, till your father 
comes, as sure 's you 're born. I '11 see you through all 
right — by the land ! " 

Thus encouraged, our heroine accompanied her protector 
into the visitor's presence. 

Dr. Browzer received her politely and even kindly ; and 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 79 

rallied her upon her surreptitious departure from his pre- 
mises. He endeavored to convince her of the impropriety 
of the step she had taken, and to prevail upon her to return 
with him. 

Bertha firmly declined the urgent invitation, and gave 
her objections to his proposition, bravely supported by the 
proximity of smiling Mr. Davin. 

Dr. Browzer could not controvert her assertions, but 
essayed to invalidate her arguments by adverting to her 
imperilled reputation, (Bertha wondered if he did not mean 
to,) — he affirmed that should be a sufficient incentive to 
duty, even at the sacrifice of a little personal feeling. 

Our heroine smiled at the word "duty," so religiously 
recommended to her by those who had neglected it them- 
selves. She seriously doubted if it were her " duty " to sacri- 
fice happiness and life solely to advance the interest of those 
who had trampled upon principle, and thought only of profit. 

Bertha informed him she "was entirely willing to risk the 
consequences of the step she had taken. To remain at the 
Seminary would be of no benefit to her whatever, as her 
wretched health rendered it impossible for her to make any 
advancement in her studies. She could not live through the 
session without some care for her present condition." 

Dr. Browzer's diplomacy had failed signally, and he now 
changed his tactics. He advised her "to accompany him 
to the Institution, and he would inform her father of her 
declining health and desire to return home. As Mr. Bel- 
mont had confided her to his care, it was proper that he 
should return her to him." 

Bertha smiled in her sleeve, and wondered "if her face" 
was so simple as to induce the supposition that she could be 
entrapped by such a bait. She was surprised that a man 
of his age should angle in clear water, without being par- 
ticularly careful to conceal his hook ! 



80 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

She " preferred remaining in her present home until her 
father came, as she found it more pleasant than the one she 
had left. Had her letters been received by her friends, she 
would not have been subjected to the necessity of leaving 
the Seminary secretly. Perhaps the mails might fail to 
carry his letter to her father, as they had hers ; and in such 
an event she would be better content among her new-found 
friends." 

Dr. Browzer winced, but yielded the point at discretion. 
His late pupil was incorrigible, and safely intrenched 
behind friends more powerful, in every respect, than him- 
self. He remained to breakfast, and departed, unregretted 
by all he left behind. He promised Mr. Davin to convey 
intelligence to Mr. Belmont. 

The good old man applauded her bravery, and laughed 
at the Doctor's defeat. The kind family enjoyed the scene 
enacted by the proprietor of La Violet Seminary and his 
invulnerable pupil of former days, reproduced by its face- 
tious head, for their amusement, with characteristic humor. 

They were peaceful, pleasant days our heroine passed in 
the home to which a merciful Providence had directed her. 
She was no longer pinched with hunger and frozen with 
heartless indifference ; but it was long months ere she re- 
covered from the effects of a heart left to desolation. Her 
whole nature was love, and without its healthful influence 
she would soon wither and die. 

Mr. Belmont was startled by the ravages of disease made 
in the appearance of his daughter by a few weeks' experi- 
ence in a "fashionable boarding-school." Bertha thought 
heaven had come down to earth when she found herself once 
more in the safety-ark of her father's arms. 

Dr. Davin accompanied Mr. Belmont to the Seminary 
upon his arrival at Bertha's refuge, and was besieged by 
Lily upon his return. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 81 

Dr. Bavin was a quiet, amiable man, with a keen sense 
of the ludicrous underlying a calm, dignified exterior. His 
cool, undemonstrative manner of relating an incident gave 
double point to a sarcastic thought. 

"Did you enter the Institution?" inquired Lily, with a 
sparkle in her mild eye as it looked into her brother's. 

"No;" laying his head back with a queer expression 
about his manly mouth ; " we preferred the porch, — the 
evening was fine." 

"Then you did n't see the ladies?" said Lily. 

"Oh, yes," — caressing his firm mouth with finger and 
thumb to smooth out an incipient smile; "they honored us 
with their presence upon the porch, and also gave us an 
invitation from the key-board to enter the parlor, which the 
balmy air induced us to decline. Splendid piece it was, 
though ; I saw Fanny Ellsler dance it in Philadelphia." 

"What was it?" 

" The Cachuca." 

" Then you heard Madge talk, of course ? " 

"I did." 

" What did she say ? " laughed Lily. 

"She said," laying his head back and turning up his eyes, 
soberly, " ' Oh, what a beautiful night we are going to have ! 
The moon begins to shed its influence already ! ' " 

" Why that was simplicity's self to Madge's usual style," 
said Lily, with a merry laugh. 

" Yes, but the loud, rostrum tone and manner in which 
it was declaimed rendered it graceful and grandiloquent." 
The incipient smile leaped into full birth upon the young 
doctor's handsome mouth, and his fine blue eyes expressed 
volumes of unspoken thought, more amusing to the observer 
than the oral language. 

" She talked like a lawyer," said Mr. Belmont, alluding 
to Mrs. Browzer; " F faith, one would think from her tone 

F 



82 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

of injured innocence that my daughter was the most un- 
grateful imp alive to desert such a delightful home and lov- 
ing friends as she found at the Seminary ! I should think 
so, judging from her appearance!" he growled, indignantly. 

Bertha bade adieu to her kind friends with genuine 
regret, and left the vicinity of her late purgatory with no 
lingering desire ever to behold it again. Dr. Davin accom- 
panied them some miles on their homeward route, and they 
said farewell for many long years. 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Mr. Redmond, as the story ended, 
"and so we'll have the blue-eyed JEsculapius fluttering 
around here before shortly, — I'll bet two chincapins, by 
Jupiter ! " 

Bertha blushed painfully ; the crimson flush mantled 
both cheek and brow, and even tinged her small ears. Her 
confusion was so apparent that it communicated itself to 
the observer, and the old man's kind heart assisted her to 
recover from the overwhelming effect of his badinage. He 
never alluded to the doctor again in Bertha's presence. Her 
extreme sensibility at her tender age surprised him. 

" I say, Ed," said Mr. Redmond, as they wended home- 
ward, " Bertha 's in love, and my jig 's up — by Jupiter ! " 

Edalia laughed at the serio-comic expression of his face ; 
she knew he was jesting with his gray hairs. 

" I really believe so, uncle ; but I seriously doubt if it 's 
with the doctor." 

"Who the deuce then?" 

" Esquire Redmond, perhaps." 

" Get out ! " he snarled, with a queer compression of 
the softened mouth. 

" He, he ! " giggled Dora Wilmer, " Bertha Belmont's run 
away — he, he ! " 

Dora had dropped in at Dr. Montrose's the evening sub- 
sequent to our heroine's return home. Minnie snapped out, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 83 

regardless of her visitor's feelings and politeness under her 



-© 
own roof: 



" Yes, and you would have done the same, if you had the 
bravery that Bert 's got ! " 

Dora was so chagrined at this well-merited rebuke, that 
she burst into tears like an angry child, and flirted out to 
the carriage, with the terrible threat that she'd "tell her 
ma ! " 

"I don't care if she never comes again," said indignant 
Minnie to the gratified Edalia; — "she 's got no soul, any- 
how, and the whole family 's just so, setting aside the Colonel. 
He 'a worth the whole tribe, (and goodness knows there 're 
enough of them !) All they possess in the round world is 
in their pocket — they haven't anything in their heads, the 
Lord knows ! They 're stingy as sin, and all you hear in 
their houses is 'money' and 'Thomsonian medicine' ! " 

Edalia laughed outright; and Mr. Redmond, with a jerk 
of one leg to shake down his trousers, said, with a chuckle : 

" They may say what they please of Bert, I glory in her 
spunk — by Jupiter ! " 



CHAPTER XVII. 

WALTER ELDON's ADVENT. — EDALIA's DREAM. 

IT was a busy day at Mr. Redmond's. There was the 
little chamber adjoining the old man's to prepare for 
AValter, and Aunt Cora bustled about, brimful of impor- 
tance aud satisfaction. 

"Lor' bless yer heart, honey! I ain't bin so glad I 
dunno when! Mars Wallie was oilers sich a nice boy. 



84 BERTHA 

Four years is a mighty long time. I 'spect 'e won't hardly 
know old Aunt Cory what used fur ter steal biscuits out 'n 
the oven fur you an' him 'fore they was good an' done. Lor' 
bless 'is blue eyes ! Aunt Cory ain't,furgot 'im yit — how 'e 
used fur ter buy 'er terbaeker when she had n't a blessed 
red cent ter he'p 'erse'f wid. He's pine blank like 's 
mother, too ; an' 'e 's boun' ter come ter some good. Boys 
as favors their mothers is born ter ,good luck. I oilers 
knowed it — an' now 'e's gwine ter be a big lawyer — ki ! " 
and Aunt Cora scrubbed industriously the little chamber- 
floor until a spot of tarnish would have been a phenomenon. 

Recent events had rendered Edalia inquisitive on some 
points relative to Walter's parents, that she had heretofore 
been regardless of, and she inquired : 

"Tell me of Walter's father, aunty,— where did he die?" 

" Lor' bless yer heart, honey, he ain't dead yit, not 's I 
knows on — 'cep' brandy's carred 'im off! He used fur 
ter be a mighty hard drinker in Miss Evy's day ; an' arter 
she died, po' thing, he jes' turned out an' drunk an' gambled 
all 'is fortin away, an' then he went, too, — the Lord in 
heab'n knows whar, — I don't. He used fur ter be a mighty 
rich man, when Miss Evy marred 'im — rich as Kresus — 
an' a pooty man 'e was, too. But Miss Evy did n't want 
'im — she had ter have 'im, though — po' thing ! " 

" Why did she have to, aunty ? " 

" I dunno, honey. Some folks ses how 'er pa fooled 'er 
'bout bein' broke, an' ef she did n't have Mr. Eldon 'e 'd 
kill 'isself. But I dunno nothin' 'bout it, honey, on'y she 
pined 'way arter it, an' died when Mars Wallie was a little 
baby — po' thing ! " 

Walter's father yet living ! Here was a mystery ; and 
Edalia resolved, with a spirit of newly awakened curiosity, 
to probe it to the bottom. She knew the early history of 
Walter, — that her own sainted mother had adopted him, 



85 

after the death of Mrs. Eldon ; and when she became an 
orphan, they both passed under the guardianship of Mr. 
Redmond ; but Edalia had been taught to regard him as a 
fatherless boy. 

The dreaded day at length dawned— a clear, blue Sep- 
tember morning, dreamy and languid with the faint breath 
of fading flowers, and the low hum of golden-winged bees, 
sunning and sipping the nectar-drops in the consumptive 
hearts of autumn blossoms. It waned slowly, and " now 
came still evening on, and twilight gray had, in her sober 
livery, all things clad." 

The finishing touch had been given to Walter's chamber, 
— for Edalia prided herself on her housekeeping qualities, 
so frequently commended by her uncle,— and they sat at 
the parlor-window, looking out for the carriage, and listen- 
ing to catch the distant rumble of its revolving wheels, as it 
bore Walter homeward from Enfield. 

Edalia said, quietly : 

"Adopting the language of Joseph to his brethren, allow 
me to ask, uncle, ' doth Walter's father yet live ' ? " 

He turned upon her a searching glance. 

" And why this inquiry now, -Ed ? " 

" I have casually learned, sir, that his death is problem- 
atical." ? 

Edalia detected a lurking smile in his large blue eyes, 
and grew warm in consequence. He answered : 

" I can give you no positive assurance, but the prevailing 
belief founded upon circumstantial evidence, is, that Wal- 
ter's father has long filled an inebriate's grave." 

Edalia forbore further interrogations. 

" Hit 's cummin', master! " shouted little Dick, springing 
through the gate, and turning a somerset on the green 
grass; then hurling his wool hat aloft, he caught it on his 



86 BEETHA, THE BEAUTY. 

toes, and shot off to enlighten the occupants of the kitchen 
department. 

Mr. Redmond hurried out as the vehicle drew up, and 
received the descending form of a tall young man in his ex- 
tended arms. Edalia wondered at such manifest affection. 

Aunt Cora poked her black head, enveloped in a snow- 
white 'kerchief with a tremendous bow in front, into the 
parlor as the two gentlemen advanced, and whispered, ex- 
citedly : 

" Lor' bless yer heart, honey, how 'e is growed ! — taller 'n 
marster 'e is — ki ! " and she made a precipitate exit, as 
footsteps sounded on the piazza, and voices came floating up. 

Edalia rose, as her uncle entered the apartment, and 
stood face to face with Walter Eldon, after a separation 
of four years; but what a change had those four years 
wrought ! 

He advanced smilingly and with extended hand ; Edalia 
had thought to welcome him with sisterly feeling and frank- 
ness, but an indefinable emotion possessed her, as she looked 
up into those full and fathomless blue eyes, and she received 
him with dignified restraint, shrinking instinctively from 
the soft touch of his lips upon her forehead. 

Mr. Redmond dropped into his old arm-chair, with a non- 
chalance that indicated perfect satisfaction with himself, 
"all the world, and the rest of mankind;" while Walter 
took possession of one hard by, designated by the forefinger 
of the old gentleman ; and Edalia stole out to superintend 
the tea-board. 

She was busily employed thereat, when, looking up, she 
observed the tall form of the young man towering in the 
doorway, his earnest eyes bent, half mournfully, upon her 
flushed face. He went slowly up to her and extended his 
hand. She laid hers nervously upon the soft, warm palm, 
and his fingers closed gently but firmly around it. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 87 

"Miss Redmond ! — sluill I address you by that cold and 
formal title?" 

11 No, no ! call me, as in the years gone by, Walter. Why 
should we not be as then ? " 

" There is no cause for change, Edalia; but your cool re- 
ception and reserved air inspired the fear that change had 
come over ©ne — but not my heart." 

"Nor mine, Walter. I have ever, and shall always 
cherish for you the affection of a sister." 

His clasp suddenly tightened and relaxed as if involun- 
tarily ; then gently releasing her hand, he stood in momen- 
tary silence with folded arms. 

Edalia had never seen him look so handsome. His curl- 
ing chestnut-hair, changing and glittering in the lamplight, 
was swept gracefully back, from a broad, high, and deli- 
cately white forehead, the veined purity of which a city 
belle might have envied. The pink of the sea-shell mantled 
his cheeks — once round, but now evincing the unwearied 
student ; and his eyes — those large, soft blue eyes, compar- 
able to nought but the liquid heavens of a clear, mellow 
sunset in balmy June — were expressive of sunshine and 
shadows commingled in the depths of the soul. 

" Thank you, Edalia — dear sister ; whatever fate has in 
store for us in years that may come, — whatever separate re- 
lations we may bear in the dim future, — may the unfading 
freshness of our happy and confiding childhood days ever 
be the one green spot in memory's waste." 

He turned to go, as Aunt Cora entered with both hands 
well laden with tea-service, which she hastened to put down 
in order to grasp his proffered hand. 

" God bless ye, Mass Wallie! I 's so glad I dunno what 
ter do, ter see ye back safe an' sound ergin ! Lor' bless yer 
heart, honey, I ain't eat nuthin' in a week hardly, was so 
full o' glad ter think ye was comin' back ! But I gwine ter 



88 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

make up for los' time ter-night, though — 'deed I is, 
honey!" and she wiped her wet eyes with the corner of her 
check apron. 

Walter's eyes moistened as he listened to the expressions 
of delight from the faithful and affectionate old servant, 
and replying to her artless demonstrations to her entire 
satisfaction and admiration, he hurried away. 

Aunt Cora poured out, to her young mistress, profuse 
praise of the " dear, pooty boy." 

Dr. Montrose, Minnie, Charles Chester, and Bertha Bel- 
mont gathered around the cheerful hearth of Mr. Redmond 
that night. All was mirthful and gay, save the hidden 
heart that wildly throbbed beneath the dark bodice of 
silently suffering Edalia. 

A song was called for. Walter led Miss Redmond to the 
piano; Charles tossed the blue ribbon of the guitar over the 
bright brown curls of his affianced, and gallant Uncle Ned 
escorted our heroine to the melodeon. They played and 
sang in concert, the gentlemen supplying a deep, rich bass. 

Mr. Redmond laid his hand jocosely upon Walter's 
shoulder, as the music ceased and the performers rose. 

" Come, sir, we wait your lordship's favor. A young 
gentleman fresh from Randolph, deficient in such an es- 
sential accomplishment, ought to be arrested on the ground 
of false pretences, and deprived of his blazing diploma ! " 

With a mysterious smile, the young man turned silently, 
and walked deliberately to the piano. To the infinite sur- 
prise of all, and the delight of Mr. Redmond, he dashed 
off a simple prelude with graceful accuracy, and sang to an 
accompaniment the sweet and plaintive air, " Oft in the 
stilly night." As the last note died softly away, Mr. Red- 
mond queried : 

"Where learned you this science, young man?" 

Walter glanced mischievously up : 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 89 

" At college, sir." 

" The deuce you did ! And the- teacher wore boots and 
whiskers, we are to understand?" 
" No, sir ; 

•A perfect woman, nobly planned, 
To warn, to comfort, and command.'" 

" Ah ! you young scapegrace ! — been falling in love, eh ? " 

A wave of crimson rolled over the young man's face, and 
rippled off under the rings of nut-brown hair, leaving his 
face pale and inflexible as marble. 

Minnie gave Edalia a sorrowful glance, which she returned 
with a glad smile. 

A shadow rested upon Mr. Redmond's brow as the 
"good night" was uttered, and Edalia went up to her 
chamber. 

Di rolled herself up on the hearth-rug, and very speedily 
a heavy sound issued from the heap that assured her young 
mistress of her utter obliviousness; and Edalia — the petted 
child of fortune — envied the poor slave, so humble and 
ignorant. 

The hot blood burned in her veins, and her brain throbbed. 
There was no necessity for restraint now, and she threw her- 
self on the bed and burst into a passion of tears. She wept 
long and freely, till the footsteps of her uncle and Walter, 
ascending the stairs, roused her, and she rose to prepare for 
the night. 

Mr. Redmond had evidently recovered his wonted cheer- 
fulness ; he chatted gayly with his companion as they 
passed, and his merry laugh grew distant as the chamber- 
door shut them in. 

As Edalia bound back the long black ringlets with which 
nature had crowned her, from her swollen eyes and flushed 
face, a queer smile came over the features reflected in the 

6* 



90 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

mirror before her. Her eyes had fallen upon a little dress- 
ing-case, the gift of Mr. Redmond on her seventeenth birth- 
day. It was composed of rosewood banded with pearl, 
cushioned with crimson velvet, and surmounted by a pure, 
white, transparent shell, on which glistened the golden ini- 
tials W. E. ; and she smiled at the prediction of the bug- 
oracle, now that she felt there was a duplicate barrier to its 
fulfilment. A secret spring revealed a tiny cell, containing 
a sealed missive, addressed " To Edalia Redmond, my 
darling niece," and was disclosed to her with the words: 

" Promise me, Edie, that you will never possess the secret 
herein contained until I am no more, or grant you per- 
mission." 

" I do promise, uncle." 

"Enough, my child; I confide implicitly in your inte- 
grity." 

A wayward spirit now possessed Edalia, and she lifted it 
from its hiding-place. Did it concern her ? She would have 
given much in her restless state to read the secret story ; but 
the memory of her sainted mother, and her early teachings, 
" Thou God seest me," as she knelt in infancy at her knee, 
with her loving hand upon her little head, came over the 
yearning child, and she dared not violate the vow. She 
returned the letter to the little case, and retired to rest. 
She slept and dreamed : She wandered with Minnie on the 
verge of a frightful precipice. Flowers of richest hue and 
luxuriance bloomed profusely around, and the atmosphere 
was heavy with perfume. Bird-songs drifted on waves of 
sunny air, and echoed in the dark wild cavern below. A 
blossom of rare beauty attracted her eye, and she leaned 
over to gather it from the side of the chasm. Minnie 
bounded forward, and merrily plucked it from beneath her 
hand; but the fang of a serpent was thrust into her delicate 
finger as she snapped the slender stem. Faint with pain 



91 

ami fright, Minnie tottered over the awful steep! Edalia 
grasped her arm as she descended, and falling upon the 
frightful verge, held her light form suspended in mid-air, 
and screamed in agony and horror. 

She knew not from whence he came, but a strong arm 
was thrown firmly around her, and Walter Eldon drew 
them both from the frightful gulf! 

Edalia awoke, and started up with a shudder. It was 
morning — clear, calm, and sun-bright. 

She made a hasty toilet, and descended to the parlor. Mr. 
Redmond received her with his usual morning salute. His 
round, rubicund face was radiant with good-humor, and his 
big blue eyes were brimful of sparkles. 

"Just as I insinuated, Ed; the boy is six feet in love, 
sure enough ! and now we'll have a wedding by-and-by, and 
the deuce will be to pay ! Kiss her, Wall, — she 's only a 
8isier, you know." 

Edalia submitted quietly to the process, and felt his lips 
quiver slightly, as he pressed them warmly upon her cheek. 
Did he fancy he wronged the loved one far away ? 



CHAPTER XVIII. 
Minnie's bridal. — she 

IT was the bridal eve of Minnie Montrose. The heavens 
were dull and leaden-hued, and a drizzling rain made 
mist- wreaths upon the window-panes, as Edalia Redmond 
stood alone in her chamber, looking at the illuminated 
mansion. She was repeating, mentally, the lines of poor 
Byron — 



92 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"And fiends might pity what I feel, 
To know that thou art lost forever! " 

as an expression of her own sensations, when the door 
opened and widow "Wilraer entered. 

Edalia and Bertha were among the six chosen brides- 
maids, and the fair widow had kindly volunteered to pre- 
side at the toilet of Mr. Redmond's niece. 

Widow Wilnier was a handsome woman of thirty-three, 
reduced in circumstances through the intemperance of her 
lost liege, and the mother of five badly disciplined responsi- 
bilities. The fair widow was amiable outwardly, with a 
leaning towards the rich that rendered her often unjust to 
the poor when the two came in contact, and charity de- 
manded an equal distribution of her favors; and rumor 
whispered the wealthy got more than their share. She 
coveted praise, and gave alms to receive it ; but those who 
penetrated beneath the surface of mere seeming, were re- 
minded of St. Paul's declaration, " sounding brass, or a 
tinkling cymbal." She was related to the " money," and 
" Thomsonian medicine " tribe, but an old feud had long 
separated the relatives. She was sly and supercilious, with 
a shining tissue of sanctimony thrown over to soften her 
salient points. Bertha Belmont had felt the distinction the 
fair widow made between the favored of fortune and the 
poor in purse. 

Judging from various womanly wiles and gentle arts, 
Mrs. Wilmer would willingly have borne to Edalia Red- 
mond the interesting relationship of aunt, could her con- 
firmed old bachelor uncle have been induced to " see it in 
that light." 

Edalia had often wondered at his predilection for single 
blessedness, but no banterings thereupon could elicit aught 
pertaining to the past, or reveal the curtained mysteries of 
the soul's inner sanctuary. 



BERTHA, Til E B E A U T Y . 93 

Edalia stood passively as the long black ringlets drifted 
one by one from the white fingers of the smiling widow, and 
floated in inky waves over her neck and shoulders. The 
delicate snowy wreath was twined above cheeks scarcely less 
white, and the sacrifice was prepared. 

Walter looked earnestly into the young girl's eyes, as they 
ascended to the bridal chamber. 

"Are you ill, Edalia?" 

" No — thank you." 

Minnie was radiant with smiles and blushes, and Charles 
looked stately and triumphant, as he stood in the midst of 
that brilliant and gay assembly, and vowed eternal love and 
protection to the fragile form that, dove-like, trembled at 
his side. The seal of the marital compact was set upon her 
rosy, smiling lips, and Minnie Montrose was merged into 
the life and destiny of Charles Chester. 

Peterroy Simpkins' round form at length became visible 
among the crowd, enveloped in a bran new suit of the latest 
Broadway "agony." He advanced toward Walter, who 
stood beside Edalia and Bertha, with a most graceful 
inclination of his little shiny -head, and drew off a delicate 
white kid with sovereign grace and ecstasy. 

" Mr. Eldon, I have the supreme felicity and honor of 
extending this palm of unequivocal friendship, after the 
lapse of many successive annual rotations. Permit me, sir, 
to express my unfeigned emotions of gratification for the 
inestimable privilege of welcoming you back from a remote 
citadel of inculcation, after your temporary sojourn with all 
the pristine genuineness of adolescence ; for verily, sir, vera 
amicitia est sempiterna. — I have recently, sir, revelled in the 
rainbow radiance of sublime Niagara, with its organ tones 
and startling splendor, and perambulated the labyrinthine 
aishs of babel Gotham, or it would have been my delightful 
prerogative, ere this enchanting hour, to vociferate my 



94 BERTHA 

enthusiastic desire for the renewal of long dormant associa- 
tions of amity." 

The little lord drew himself up with a regal air, as he 
concluded his eloquent declaration, and deigned an acknowl- 
edgment of Edalia's presence by a slight and supercilious 
shake of his systematically arranged curls. 

He had evidently not forgiven her rejection of the honor 
he would so condescendingly have conferred upon her. 

Mirth and music floated from many a ruby lip ; " the 
merry dance went round, and joy w 7 as unconfined." The 
sparkling wine painted a brighter rose upon youthful 
cheeks, and lent unusual lustre to beaming eyes. 

A goblet of crimson liquid deepened and flashed in the 
hands of the happy bridegroom. 

" A health to the beautiful bride ! " echoed many voices, 
as he placed it untasted upon the board. 

" No ! I 've forsworn the sparkling bowl ! — it is easier to 
resist than reform. 'Lead me not into temptation, but 
deliver me from evil.' " 

A peal of merriment greeted this remark. Charles stood 
calm and unaffected ; but the rich blood mounted to Min- 
nie's brow, and she placed the glass in the hand of the 
bridegroom with an inviting smile ! 

Edalia and Bertha exchanged reproachful glances, and 
observed Walter start, slightly. He bent over and said, 
lowly, but earnestly: 

" Charles, beware ! " 

The bridegroom turned to his adviser. 

" Years have passed since I drank of the fruit of the 
vine, but I obey the behest of my fair bride." 

Walter grew white as the glass sent up its empty, silvery 
ring, as Charles replaced it upon the board. The two girls 
caught the low sad voice of Walter, as they turned away, 
whispering in the ear of the smiling bride : 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 95 

" 'He that soweth the wind, shall reap the whirlwind ! ' " 

A shadow flitted over her young face, and she threw after 
him a wistful, remorseful glance. 

Peter stepped forward, his cheeks flushed to an unnatural 
brilliancy, and all the dignity of Chesterfield thick upon 
hi.< squat person. 
. " Mr. Eldon, the honor of a glass with you." 

"Pray exonerate me, Mr. Simpkins; my total abstinence 
principles must be my apology." 

Peter " grew small by degrees, and beautifully less," as 
he shrank back among the gay group. 

Edalia caught the eye of Charles Chester at the close of 
the evening. It was bright and burning, and a spot of 
crimson glowed on either cheek. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE DESERTED HOMESTEAD. — MISS AGXES BENTLEY. — 



WIXTER passed quietly away, and with it Mr. Belmont 
and family. Mr. Belmont received an urgent call to 
the Williamsville Academy — the place of our heroine's 
nativity — and joyfully Mrs. Belmont prepared to abandon 
the low brown house with the long piazza. It passed into 
the hands of a Wilmer. 

Bertha was now seventeen, and very beautiful ; child- 
like, in her delicate proportions; the admiration of the 
opposite sex, and envy of her own. Mr. Belmont procured 
her an elegant piano — much handsomer and finer-toned 
than Mrs. Wilmer's highly-prized instrument ; — and though 
destitute of a teacher, Bertha's perseverance, together with 



96 

Minnie's and Eclalia's kindness, had rendered our heroine 
far superior to Dora as a performer, when she bade adieu to 
the low brown house with the long piazza, and went back, 
half sorrowfully, to the place of her birth. 

Bertha yearned to see more of the wide world she had 
caught a glimpse of in the clouded mirror of romances and 
through the clearer microscope of the many journals and 
specimen copies of magazines that crowded her father's 
office, and which she had devoured with avidity ; but the 
pleasurable anticipations of exchanging a quiet country life 
for one more alive with interest and excitement, amid the 
changing panorama of every-day experience, were saddened 
by the reflection of a necessary separation from her two 
young friends — Minnie Chester and Ed alia Redmond. 

They wandered through the gold- and crimson-crowned 
October woods, and talked over the coming separation ; 
speculating upon Bertha's future, out in the great, gay 
world ; and under the old maple, by the little spring, 
where so many bright, happy hours of childhood had been 
passed, they made solemn promises of regular correspondence 
and unchanging affection. 

Notwithstanding Minnie's long-ago declaration that she 'd 
" warn Bert never to marry a Yankee," she had never found 
courage sufficient to perform the promise. She knew Bertha's 
love and reverence for her father, and with all her inde- 
pendence and impulsiveness she could not look into the 
clear depths of those truthful brown eyes, and insinuate 
against the honor and honesty of the people to whom Mr. 
Belmont belonged. Minnie's scorn for, and abuse of, 
Yankees, never found words in our heroine's presence. 

And so she went from the low brown house with the long 
piazza, all unthinking of the fears that followed her. with a 
longing and pain in her youthful heart — a soul reaching 
after something that was lost away in the years gone by. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 97 

Would it ever be found? She looked after the old home- 
Itead, with its time-stained palings and moss-covered roof, 
with yearning in her dark eyes, until the thick grove shut 
it away from her mourning sight. Her yearning gaze went 
by the old homestead, down the years — three years by-gone 
— and she bade it a silent farewell as "the dear old place 
where first they met." Bertha carried in her hidden heart 
I secret that was destined to live alone and unsuspected 
through long, weary, and suffering years to come ! 

Bertha was gone ; Minnie was married ; and Edalia Mas 
alone in her chamber, restless and sad. Mr. Redmond and 
Walter were absent. The cool breeze lifted the window- 
drapery, and a light from Minnie's apartment flashed 
through. The idea occurred to her of whiling away the 
tedium of a long May evening w 7 ith the young and cheerful 
wife — cheerful, but not as in other days. Her gushes of 
wit and mirth seemed forced and foreign, and her liveliest 
sallies appeared tinctured with languor and weariness. 
Aunt Cora remarked the evident change, and one day ex- 
claimed: 

"I dunno what's come ter Miss Min, honey. She ain't 
like 'erse'f, somehow-. I dunno why, though, fur Mars 
Charles is a mighty pooty man, an' 'pears so 'fectionate like ; 
but 'pend 'pon it, honey, she ain't happy!" 

Edalia's thoughts went back a few months, as she sat 
there and looked over at the light glimmering from the 
young wife's chamber. 

The village-teacher wedded during the winter, and a new 
one was to be procured. Walter Eldon guaranteed to sup- 
ply the vacancy with a competent successor. 

The morning subsequent to this discussion and decision 

relative to the subject, Edalia approached the news-stand to 

deposit a letter for the post, when her attention was arrested 

by a delicate missive bearing Walter's superscription, and 

9 G 



98 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

addressed to " Miss Agnes Bentley, Richmond, Virginia." 
Unconsciously she repeated it aloud, when two hauds were 
laid clumsily upon her shoulders, and a jovial voice be- 
trayed "Uncle Ned's" proximity. Edalia started, ner- 
vously, and felt the warm current rushing rapidly up. 

" Why, hey-day, young lady ! — what the deuce ! — red 
as a beet, by Jupiter ! " 

" No wonder, uncle, considering the provocation." 

"Fiddlesticks! — didn't used to be so scary! What's, 
the trouble, eh ? Hallo ! what 's here ? " — and he picked 
up Walter's letter. 

" Confound 'er ! " ejaculated the old gentleman, with a 
corrugated brow, but a twinkle of mirth that lingered 
about his compressed lips as he scrutinized the envelope ; — 
" confound 'er ! I '11 bet two chincapins that 's Wall's music 
divinity, and the bug 's a loyal descendant of one of Ahab's 
prophets — blast it ! " 

Little Dick fortunately protruded his round head into the 
hall. 

"Please, sir, Mars Wallie say 'e wants ter see ye in de 
office." 

Edalia escaped further tortures, and soon observed them 
galloping swiftly away. 

Two weeks after, as Edalia sat in the piazza one quiet, 
early twilight, amid the floating fragrance of thick, golden 
jessamine- blossoms, and sparkling spring roses, nodding 
and swaying in sweet low gushes of evening winds, looking 
over at the low brown house with the long piazza, and 
dreaming of far-away Bertha, a heavy rumble came drifting 
down the broad white road, and soon a dusty and spattered 
carriage came rolling on. 

Walter sprang from the office-door at the sound, followed 
by Mr. Redmond, and strode rapidly to the gate. A white 
handkerchief waved from the carriage-window as it passed 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 99 

the young man, who followed swiftly to the low brown house 
with the long piazza, the temporary home of Agnes Bentley. 

Mr. Redmond went slowly up, and threw himself down 
Inside Edalia, with a mortified air. 

"She's come, Ed — the little gipsy — confound 'er!" 

" Who has come, uncle ? You speak enigmatically. I 
don't comprehend." 

" Why, Wall's music divinity — Agnes Bentley — the 
school-marm — little witch — be hanged to 'er ! Should Ve 
thought the boy might 've got in love nearer home. For my 
part, I think there are as good-looking girls hereabouts as 
in foreign parts ; but de gustibus non disputandum. You 
look sorry, Ed ? " 

"Me? — no indeed, sir! I don't care a fig about it. 
It 's of no consequence to me whom the young gentleman 
fancies." 

There was a clear glitter of something inexplicable in his 
smiling eyes, as he turned silently away and passed into 
the hall. 

The succeeding day was a still, sunshiny, and lovely 
Sabbath. Edalia walked to church with Mr. Redmond. 
Glancing at Minnie's pew, she met her eye, which directed 
her in an opposite quarter. Following the indication, she 
encountered the large, deep orbs of Walter Eldon. Beside 
him sat a fair, sweet girl robed in deep mourning. Her eyes 
were bent upon her hymn-book, and the long lashes that fell 
thickly over them, pencilling her pure white cheeks, were 
deep black and silky, giving her youthful face a pensive 
and highly interesting expression. Her wealth of pale, 
wavy, brow T n hair was put plainly back over a smooth, 
round forehead in light, numerous braids. She lifted the 
dark fringe of those veined lids as Edalia gazed upon her, 
and a pair of mild dew T y hazel eyes unveiled their hidden 
loveliness. 



100 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY, 

Mr. Redmond bent down, and whispered in Edalia's ear : 

" No wonder Wall loves her ! " 

But what had become of Minnie's beauty? The bril- 
liancy was gone from her eye, and her round cheek had lost 
its plumpness and bloom. 

Dr. Montrose, too, appeared moody and dejected ; Charles 
alone retained all the vestiges of his former self. 

Edalia returned to her quiet chamber, and fell into a 
train of restless reflections and surmises, from which the 
dinner-bell aroused her. She descended. Mr. Redmond and 
Walter awaited her, and they passed into the dining-room. 

"And so, Wall," commenced Mr. Redmond, — " and so, 
Wall, that 's your inamorata, eh ? A deuced pretty girl, by 
Jupiter ! I '11 bet two chincapins, I get a kiss from her red 
lips in less than a week o' Sundays, and cut you out yet, 
boy ! I say, Ed, is n't she handsome, or ' harnesome,' as 
the Yankees say — eh ? " 

" Very." 

"Humph! short as pie-crust, by Jupiter ! But tell us, Sir 
Walter, w T ho and what she is — your Virginia blossom ? — 
because, as that same Yankee I 've just quoted from, says, 
I want tew know ! " 

" The daughter of a broken merchant, sir, upon whose 
exertions an invalid mother and three young children are 
dependent. Our acquaintance was purely fortuitous. We 
met at the mansion of a wealthy citizen of Richmond, she 
acting in the capacity of music instructress to his daughters. 
Her history, as related by the benevolent millionaire, en- 
listed my sympathies, and I sought her residence and 
patronized her." 

" And fell in love upon the strength of it, without even 
a 'by your leave, Uncle Ned,' eh?" 

Edalia stole a glance at Walter to mark his expression, 
and caught his eye askance in her direction. The rich 



BEAUTY. 101 

blood rushed to his brow, and her own cheeks burned from 
the detection. The color receded swiftly from his face, and 
the same rigid and marble appearance she had once before 
observed became visible in his features. 

Mr. Redmond noted the change, and made no further 
allusion to the lovely stranger. 

Aunt Cora overheard this conversation, and with all the 
sagacity of her race failed not to comment upon it at the 
earliest possible convenience. 

" Lor' bless your heart, honey ! " she exclaimed, the in- 
stant the door closed upon the retiring gentlemen, " I never 
did see a boy love hard'r 'n Mars Wallie ! The very name 
on 'er cullers 'm up ter 'is yers ! I used ter think you was 
boim' ter be 'is bride — 'specially when the snail writ in de 
plate. I never knowed snails ter fail 'fore ; but all signs 
fails in dry weather, honey ; an' 't was a mighty dry time 
las' May, shore 'nuff, chile ! I does wish, Mars Wallie 'd 
never gone ter Rando'f, 'cause den 'e would n't never seed 
'er, honey ! " and Aunt Cora sighed, dolefully. 

To dissipate the vague and indefinable feelings of gloom 
that pervaded her as she retrospected the past, Edalia threw 
on a light shawl, and started for the Doctor's. With ac- 
customed freedom she entered the hall without premonition 
and proceeded towards Minnie's apartment ; but high tones 
arrested her as she advanced, and inadvertently she hesi- 
tated and caught the words : 

" Pshaw ! a woman's everlasting tears are enough to drive 
a man to the devil ! You need n't sit up for me, as I have 
an appointment that may perhaps detain me till a late hour. 
If you are lonely, send for Edalia." 

" Edie is a dear, good friend, but no society can com- 
pensate me for the loss of yours. For my sake, don't go, 
Charles." 

" When will you have done with such nonsense, Minnie ? 
9* 



102 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Do you suppose I 'm going to be held in leading-strings 
eternally, and mope down here with a silly woman, when 
I 've an engagement that demands fulfilment to-night?" 

" Time was, Charles, when no society was preferable to 
mine — when you thought it not irksome to pass a quiet 
evening alone with me. It is not that I would deprive you 
of enjoyment, Charles, but that I would have you avoid 
temptation." 

"Temptation be ! If I have become a slave to the 

wine-cup, it was you who wound the first coil of thraldom 
around me ! You should not reproach me for becoming a 
proficient under your own teaching ! " 

"Oh, Charles, if repentant tears could efface the memory 
of that act, it would long ago have been obliterated from sad 
remembrance ! Let me not have the misery of seeing you 
sink into ruin and degradation through my agency, Charles ! 
1 have atoned for the past by bitter remorse and anguish ! 
Promise me, Charles, to resist, to-night, the insidious wiles 
of the destroyer to indemnify me for your absence." 

"No; I leave you to the indulgence of your own pro- 
pensities, and claim the same privilege, by ! " 

"Oh, Charles, Charles, you are breaking — my — heart!" 
and a deep sob burst from the poor weeper. 

Hasty footsteps approached the door. Edalia retreated 
across the hall, and shrank back into the parlor as Charles 
Chester issued from the apartment, and strode out into the 
night. 

And this was her idol ! The object of so many sweet 
dreams and secret sighs ! Edalia shuddered, and thanked 
the omniscient Being for. frustrating every hope of her girlish 
heart associated with Charles Chester. 

Tremblingly she crept from her concealment, and went 
softly to the door ; but the query arose, " should she leave 
Minnie thus alone and wretched ? " She went deliberately 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTV. 103 

buck, and passed into the young wife's chamber. She lay 
upon a sofa, unconscious of her friend's presence, her slight 
form quivering with agitation, and the fair curls falling in 
careless clusters over her face and arm. Edalia went softly 
and knelt beside her. 

"Minnie dear." 

She started up, and a deep flush swept over her tearful 
face. 

" I 'm so glad you 've come, Ed. I was just going to send 
for you. Charles is gone, and papa, and I've made ac- 
quaintance with the vapors to-night. But sit down here, Ed, 
and we '11 demolish the fortress of Major Blue, and make him 
prisoner of war with a good, merry chat as in the olden 
time!" 

And she laughed gayly, with the large liquid tears swim- 
ming in her languid blue eyes. 

Edalia struggled to repress emotion, and enter cheerfully 
into her assumed mood ; but her thin face, smiling through 
tears of heart-sorrow to conceal the worthlessness of him 
who had crushed her once glad spirit, subjugated her firm- 
ness, and she dropped her head upon the sofa-cushion and 
burst into tears. 

Minnie fell back with a low, heart-broken cry, and 
throwing an arm over her friend's neck, laid her young 
head beside Edalia's, and indulged unrestrainedly in the 
luxury of tears. She sobbed : 

" Edie, why do you weep ? We have been friends from 
childhood ; let nothing part us now." 

"For you, Minnie! I mourn for the destruction of all 
your fairy dreams and brilliant hopes ! I know all, Minnie." 

She hid her face and was silent, while a faint rose tinge 
fluttered over her fair neck. 

" It was my duty to conceal his defects. You don't cen- 
sure me for want of confidence, Edie ? " 



104 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" No, Minnie ; I honor the motive that withheld that con- 
fidence. But now, you will let me share your sorrows, and 
sympathize in all your future sufferings, dear girl ? " 

" Oh, Edie, I am unworthy of your love — of his ! I 
have wrought my own misery, and his ruin ! I tempted 
him, and he fell ! But I could not endure their derision ; I 
trusted in his strength and was deluded, and now we are 
drifting out on the wide dark sea, far from the shore of, 
Hope ! " 

" Be composed, Minnie ; all hope is not lost. I see a star 
shining through the clouds, and its golden ray may guide 
you back into the haven of repose, 

'With truth undimmed within thy breast, 
Bear on, and leave to God the rest.' " 

She grew gradually calm and confiding, as in childhood 
days, and Edalia learned that Charles, in his boyhood, was 
wont to indulge in the intoxicating bowl, till his mother, 
on her death-bed, extorted from him a promise of reforma- 
tion, which was preserved inviolate until his wedding eve ; 
and the glass, proffered by the fair hand of his smiling 
bride, was but the prelude to an anthem of woe ! 

" It 's almost as bad as marrying a Yankee, Ed ! " was 
her closing remark, while smiles and tears struggled for 
supremacy in her faded blue eyes. 

" That reminds me of what I had forgotten. I have a 
letter from Bertha, Minnie." 

" Poor Bert ! I wish I had warned her before she went. 
From the tone of her correspondence, I fear it is too late 
now." 

" It is too late, Minnie ; the engagement-ring is on her 
finger, and yet — " 

"And yet she don't love him, Ed, — I can see that ; and 
she will awake to the sad truth when too late for her future 



105 

happiness — poor Bert! She will be the unresisting victim 
of a father's prejudice and an idolized brother's influence ! 
1 said it years ago — I only hope she will fly at the last I " 

"No! she will be led as a lamb to the slaughter ! She 
loves and reverences her father, and will sacrifice herself to 
obey his will. I wish he understood her better ; for she is 
so shy, even her father has failed to sound the great deep of 
her nature, if indeed he ever made the effort. He is a 
strange man — good-natured, easy, and honest, and thinks 
his judgment a sphere higher than the rest of mankind's, 
and will have his way in matters that concern others of his 
household more intimately than himself. I wish such people 
would mind their own business, or live as single as St. Paul, 
all their days. He will suffer severely, if she marries his 
choice, with no choice of her own, for he loves her, and will 
be punished for his present influence by witnessing her fu- 
ture unhappiness." 

" I don't know ; I 've heard it said that Yankees are glad 
to get rid of their children on any terms ; and that accounts 
for the surprising number of divorces in Yankeedom con- 
tinually. The marriage-vow up there is about as binding 
as the one our darkies make when they jump over a broom 
into the uncertain state of matrimony. If it doesn't suit 
all parties, they wipe out the landmark with the sponge of 
a very convenient law, and take another leap into the same 
state, but from a different point of the compass. Their 
constant practice does n't recognize the higher law that St. 
Paul refers to, and which governs our Southern people. 
"Who ever heard of a divorce being applied for in this part 
of the moral vineyard ? " 

" I never did." 

" No, and never will — until Pilgrim Rock is floated by 
'Northern enterprise' down the Atlantic and landed on the 
cuast of Pamlico Sound, and the principles that inhere 



106 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

become a permanent institution in the South ! If the 
Northern States are so much superior to ours in morals and 
manners, why do Yankees set in a full tide towards the 
tropics ? You never meet with a Yankee, but he is inces- 
santly lauding up the North to the detriment of the South. 
Mr. Belmont one day boasted of his native State as the 
1 land of steady habits,' and I told him, politely, I did n't 
question the appropriateness of the term, since it certainly 
required very ' steady habits ' to make wooden nutmegs and 
peg wheat sufficient for Yankee peddlers to supply the 
South with seed, since he had no manufactories in operation 
for that laudable purpose." 

"You didn't, Min!" 

" I did — he kindled just fire enough in my Carolina con- 
stitution to give him a brand ; and he was so easy tempered 
that he laughed, and said I was ' smart enough to be a Yan- 
kee,' — hum ! I informed him I was not aware that 'smartness' 
was limited by geographical boundaries ; but if it were, and 
the intellectual chain lay around free soil to the exclusion 
of other territory, I was both willing and anxious to take 
my chance outside of the line." 

Edalia threw her head upon the sofa-arm and laughed 
until the shadows fled from Minnie's thin face, and the 
olden brightness came back to her blue eyes. 

" I never could endure a Yankee — they have tormented 
the South long before my day, and are likely to continue 
the persecution so long as slavery exists, until we enact a 
law prohibiting Northern feet upon Southern soil. Just 
think of the horrors of Cross Keys through the instiga- 
tion of Northern men. And all for what? To free our 
negroes, and take their place. If they are so philanthropic 
and love the darkies so, why do they let fugitive slaves 
suffer from neglect and indifference when they escape from 
their masters and fly to them ? It 's an old and true say- 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 107 

ing that 'actions speak louder than words.' And now, 
poor Bert is going to marry one of the Yankee tribe, and a 
stranger at that ! With her capacity for loving, and true 
Southern principles, what a life of yearning and struggling 
is before her, if she unites her destiny with one of an un- 
congenial spirit. And Horace Stanhope is not of her kind, 
or her letters would breathe a far different tone. I know 
her heart is not at rest, with all her admiration of his beauty 
and full conviction of being adored — poor Bert ! " 

" No, not at rest, Minnie ; that is evident. Peter Simp- 
kins has just returned from Williamsville, where he has 
been attending court. He visited Bertha, and gives not a 
very cheering account of her appearance. He says she is 
smiling and sociable as in other days, but there is a deep- 
seated sadness in her brown eyes — a frequent introversion 
that pains the observer. Her rare beauty, he says, 'has 
turned the world upside-down ; ' the fame thereof has spread 
far and wide, and hosts of ' lovers around her are sighing/ 
Mr. Belmont favors the Yankee suitor, who is remarkably 
handsome, and devoted to his beautiful fiancee — and the 
marriage is soon to be consummated. But here is Bertha's 
letter, Minnie ; read the poor girl's fate." 



CHAPTER XX. 



MAY is here — May, with her lovely blue eyes, golden 
smiles, and blossom-scented breathings. Sweet, sunny- 
browed May ! She is beautiful, and softly wooing as ' in the 
days when we went gipsying a long time ago ; ' but — but I 
do not enjoy her light and loveliness as in those peaceful, by- 



108 

gone days, dear Edie. A change — a great change has come 
over the spirit of my dreams, since that far-away time. I 
say far away, for I seem to have lived a weary lifetime since 
I cast a longing, lingering look behind at the low brown 
house with the long piazza. 

" Only four months have been unlinked from the year 
and left upon the way-side of the past, since we said fare- 
well ; and yet I have lived on and on seemingly through 
years of change and decay, down even to old age. I do 
not know — I cannot tell how far away in the dim distance 
the days of childhood look to retrospection's eye. It seems 
a long, long way back as I sit here in the fair light of a fresh 
May-morning, and reach after the buried blessings that will 
never come again from the days that dropped silently along 
the pathway of the Past. 

" I used to yearn for the great world that glimmered up 
to imagination's eye beyond the green rim that belted my 
little, quiet home ; now I yearn more eagerly to steal away 
from the great world, and hide securely in the purple nooks 
of the blooming and breezy woodlands that softly cradle 
the low brown house with the long piazza. 

"How truly sang the poet: 'Blessings brighten as they 
take their flight,' and ' Tis distance lends enchantment to 
the view.' 

" Will you wonder, Edie, if I tell you I am tired of admi- 
ration ? Will you think me ungrateful if I say I wish I had 
been born destitute of that which the world calls beauty? I 
am weary of being ' followed, flattered, sought, and sued.' I 
want to rest. I feel as though I were drifting upon a wide, 
blue ocean amid eternal sunshine with no green foliage 
around to refresh the aching vision and no haven of repose 
in view. Drifting — drifting smoothly, prosperously, yet 
aimless and hopeless. Day after day the ocean voyage goes 
on, around the cycle of the sun-bright hours, for no white 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY 



109 



ipeck of distant shore shines over the deep waters ; and eve 
after eve I ask myself 'when will it end?' 

"They call me beautiful, and I look in vain at the reflec- 
tion my mirror gives baek for aught to justify the homage 
hourly paid the substance of the shadow. Brown eyes that 
burn with soul-hunger and thirst ; pale, auburn hair with 
glimmers of faded gold; face, colorless as the York roses 
that grew beside the low brown house with the long piazza; 
and a visible ache in the sunless features of a youthful 
image reflected there. 

" Oh, Edie, could I but nestle down in my dear old home, 
and live ' little and unknown,' forever hidden from those 
who flatter and follow me, I would ask no more on earth ! 
Life seems so hollow and unsatisfying ; the chords of youth 
are rusting out in this aimless and dormant state. My soul 
is paralyzed amid the vanities and heartlessness of the 
world, I long for the wild, free woods — the warbling 
streams and birds — the sunshiny, silent meadow, and the 
deep purple of the fragrant and slumberous old pond that 
shut us out from the superficial and struggling life beyond. 
A paradise would now appear the humble, rural scenes that 
were once monotonous and insufficient to a restless spirit, 
reaching after the untired things across the narrow boun- 
daries of its lowly sphere. 

" And thus it is : ' We push time from us, and we wish it 
baek ; ' we stretch our hands yearningly towards a seeming 
better, nor realize the good we thought to gain! Life's true 
philosophy is: 'In whatsoever situation we are, therewith 
to be content.' 

" I try to be content now, and think it is God's will that 
what is soon to come to pass has been ordained in heaven. 
I do not struggle against my fate, but follow quietly those 
who would not lead me wittingly into dark and toilsome 

ways. 

10 



110 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" It is my father's and brother's wish, that I should marry 
Horace Stanhope, and I yield to their desire. Our nuptials 
will be consummated in a few weeks, and you and Minnie 
may expect cards of invitation." 

"I won't go, I vow solemnly! " interjected Minnie, with 
two great tears stealing down her white, sunken cheeks; 
"I won't see her sacrificed by a Yankee father to a Yankee 
stranger! I'd rather be a — a — " drunkard's wife, she 
meant to add, but Minnie's tongue could not syllable the 
sound. A wave of crimson rolled over her face, and, with a 
choking sob, turned from the reader and lay very still. 

Edalia swallowed hard and continued the letter. 

" As I have insinuated in a former communication, Mr. 
Stanhope is very handsome and devoted as girlish heart 
could wish. I think sometimes, nature fashioned me with- 
out a heart, or it would have learned to thrill responsive to 
his own. Perhaps it died years ago, and can never live 
again. I hope so. It would be torment this side of eternity 
to feel its capacity for loving another while bound irrevo- 
cably to one! God save me from this trial of human 
strength ! There was a time when I thought I possessed a 
heart as capable of affection as girlish bosom of fourteen 
tender years ever hid." 

" Who, on earth, could it have been ? " 

Minnie sprang up, with eager questioning in her wide 
open eyes. " I never imagined that Bert's heart had been 
touched by the blind god ! So young, too — only fourteen ! 
Who was it, Ed ? " 

Edalia was musing. She was thinking of Bertha's con- 
fusion on the occasion of Mr. Redmond's allusion to Dr. 
Davin, and of her reply to him subsequently. 

" Edward Redmond, Esq., perhaps ? " 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. Ill 

Could it be that her surmises were correct? She roused 
up at Minnie's eager inquiry. 

"I haven't the slightest clue to the discovery, Minnie ; 
Bertha was always confidential with this exception. Strange 
that we never suspected her! But Bertha has a strong, deep 
soul, fully equal to the heavy task of bearing and con- 
cealing. If he is living, and she meets him after her mar- 
riage, it would be far better for her to die now! " 

" What ! would you fear for the consequences ? Do you 
doubt her sense of duty and distrust her honor, Edalia 
Redmond ? " Minnie's eyes flashed. 

"'Lest, after having preached to others, I myself might 
be a castaway/ ' We know what we now are, but not what 
we shall be,' " was Edalia's non-committal answer. 

" Well, I don't doubt her. She would die sooner than 
deviate from the path of rectitude. That is my faith in 
Bertha Belmont's principles, Ed. I know her." 

Edalia smiled — a well satisfied smile. 

" My faith is as strong as yours, Minnie ; but no human 
being is infallible ; and with Bertha's high sense of duty 
and honor, and unusual capacity for feeling affection and 
scorn, (for Bertha can hate as well as love,) it would be far 
better for her to die now than pass through the fiery ordeal 
of being hand-bound to one and heart-given to another. 
Do you comprehend ? " 

" Yes. You mean she would suffer more than dying — 
poor Bert ! Now finish the letter." 

"... It must be that my heart died then, with the fading 
away of that first girlish dream, and will lie forever pulse- 
less beneath the ruins of its earliest hopes. You will wonder 
at this, my friend ; but you will never know, and no one 
will ever know now more than is here written. Let the 
things that were, and the spring-roses that once were bright, 



112 

lie under the mould of other and fairer years, that have 
faded and gone. Would that they could be forgotten, since 
they can never return ! 

"A new life is opening before me. I ask myself: Am I 
equal to the duties it will bring ? and I close my ears to the 
reply. I am afraid to look beyond the present, and reflect 
upon the great responsibility I am destined to bear. I do 
not court it — it will be laid upon my weak life. I do not 
love as I ought to love, to marry ! I shall not deceive him, 
for I have told him all, and he is content to take me with 
the little affection that I can bring. But I can detect a 
growing jealousy in his watchful eyes, and I fear. 

" I have pleaded to be released from my hasty engage- 
ment, but he smiles at my anxiety, and treats my petition 
as a jest. There is a strange fascination about the man. I 
pity and half love him sometimes ; again, I shrink and 
tremble when he is near. But, Edie, I never look and 
listen for his coining, nor grieve when he is gone ; and I 
know it will be sinful in the sight of high heaven to give 
my hand to one who cannot reach my heart and play a 
sweet tune on its silvery cords. But I cannot escape. I am 
but a child, led by stronger hands. I know they would not 
lead me to sorrow, if they doubted the safety of the untried 
way. My father and brother love my betrothed, and do not 
understand me — they never did. They marvel that I 
should wear a sober face in view of coming events. They say 
he will be less jealous and exacting when I am all his own. 
But mortal eyes cannot look down into hidden human 
nature and see its constitutional defects. Kind forbearance 
alone can win love after marriage — cruelty will kill ! 

" My dear mother does not encourage me to fulfil my 
engagement with one of whose antecedents I know nothing. 
If alone with her, I should now be free; but she is partially 
reconciled to the decree by a promise from my betrothed, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 113 

never to take me from the parental roof. If the promise is 
fulfilled, I shall enjoy a negative happiness ; if it is violated, 
I shall rebel, or — die I 

" But why am I writing you thus, Edie ? — not to sadden 
and distress my dearest and best girl-friends, but ' coming 
events cast their shadows before/ and a great shadow lies 
over the way, adown which I am going to the veiled years 
that are but stepping-stones to the quiet grave, and I cannot 
divest myself of the indefinable feeling that the life of 
'Bertha the Beauty ' will be a wreck ! " 

When Dr. Montrose entered his daughter's apartment, 
Bertha's sad letter was a sufficient screen for her tear- 
swollen eyes and feverish brow. 

Edalia retired to her chamber that night with the con- 
sciousness of the unhappiness of her two best youthful 
friends, added to her own heart-disappointment. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THE WILD STORM. — EDALIA IS PUZZLED. 

A SULTRY August sun blazed in the leaden-blue sky, 
as Edalia passed through the yard -gate and went 
lightly down to her wildwood bower. 

This bower was formed by the clinging tendrils of a wild 
vine, twisting thickly and green around a sturdy old oak ; 
and the myriad claspers creeping up modelled an Arab-like 
tent about the roots, into which she crept through the mat- 
ted vines, and was effectually shut in from observation. 
Edalia had never revealed the discovery of this woodland 
lodge, and fancied its existence wholly unknown to another. 
10* H 



114 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Deeply absorbed in a volume of peculiar interest, she sat, 
unconscious of the world without, till a vivid flash of light- 
ning quickly succeeded by a heavy peal of thunder startled 
her, and she sprang through the vines into the arms of 
Walter Eldon ! 

He caught her closely to his bosom an instant, then put 
her coldly and sternly back, and, catching her arm, hurried 
her towards her uncle's. 

"Hasten, Edalia, a storm is brewing — I hear it in the 
wind ! " 

Though trembling with apprehension occasioned by the 
heavens' seeming, the young girl could not forbear smiling 
at this appropriation amid such a scene. 

Walter caught her eye, and the soul's sunshine restored 
his cold firm face to its wonted softness. 

As they emerged from the woods, a brilliant flash illumi- 
nated the heavens, and a heavy boom of ethereal artillery 
heralded a torrent of rain. 

Muffling her in a cloak which he had the precaution to 
appropriate, young Eldon lifted the quivering girl in his 
arras and ran into the piazza. 

Mr. Redmond was there in a fluster. Servants had been 
dispatched in various quarters where there was a probability 
of finding the lost one, but returned dispirited. 

" Where the deuce did you find 'er, Wall ? Fast asleep 
in Euripide's cave? Wicked elf! See, what a plight 
you 've got the poor boy in ! " 

And a sorry plight it was, truly; for, in his efforts to 
shield Edalia, he had become drenched and dripping. 

The girl's face betrayed her regrets, for Walter ex- 
claimed: 

"Never mind it, Edalia, 'Richard will be himself again' 
when he descends, and a shower-bath in summer time is n't 
uncomfortable," and he went up to his chamber. 



115 

The drifting rain drove them from the piazza, and they 
took refuge in the hall, where Walter soon joined them. 

"Gratify my curiosity in one particular, Walter." 

"Certainly, Edalia, — command me." 

" How did you come so opportunely to my rescue?" 

" I saw you wending towards your favorite retreat, and 
hastened thither when uncle sounded the alarm." 

" My favorite retreat! Then the knowledge of its locality 
was in your possession previously?" 

He smiled, a strange sunshiny smile. Mr. Redmond 
caught the infection, and his eye snapped and sparkled. 

" Trust him for hunting up wild nooks and Naiad hiding- 
places ! By Jupiter ! I — " 

A terrific explosion of electricity shook the dwelling to 
its centre, and involuntarily Edalia shrank closer to Walter. 

Peal succeeded peal, and the world seemed ablaze with 
liquid fire. Terrified beyond conception, Edalia forgot all 
things but death ; and when the dull roar of the terrible 
storm became distant in the heavens, and the blinding 
flashes less frequent, she found herself in the arms of Walter, 
her face hidden upon his shoulder. 

Mr. Redmond had disappeared from the hall. 

Edalia essayed to escape, but he playfully detained her. 
She struggled and uttered, impulsively: "Agnes !" 

He smiled brightly, and his cheeks flushed. 

" What is Agnes to — " He hesitated, and grew deathly 
pale ; released her quietly, and walked coolly away. 

Edalia retreated precipitately, to ruminate upon the 
changeful moods of the incomprehensible man. 

When they met again, he was calm, but the color had 
not returned to his cheeks. 



116 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

CHAPTER XXII. 

HOEACE STANHOPE. — GREEN EYES. 

THAT fearful August storm raged around the pleasant 
home of Mr. Belmont, and laid with its wild wind* 
blast the majestic old sycamore-tree that shaded Bertha's 
chamber-window from the fervid heat of a sultry summer 
sun prostrate to the earth. 

Bertha saw it fall, and it appeared to cross her young life. 

" It is like my hopes," she said ; but the sound was only 
heard in her heart. 

For two months she had been a wife, and the great shadow 
had not been lifted away from her path. It had deepened 
with the days that died, and hung threateningly over the 
days that were destined to be born of the shadowy night. 

It was the eighteenth anniversary of her birth, and the 
wild storm seemed typical of the fate of a life that had been 
thrust upon the world eighteen years ago. She had known 
no childhood, and old age seemed withering her hungry 
soul even in early youth. There was an aching void in 
her heart that Horace Stanhope could not fill, and the 
effort to conceal his insufficiency to satisfy her spirit- 
craving rendered her less peaceful than in the days of 
girlish freedom. 

Bertha knew her husband loved her — it was a self- 
evident fact; no one had ever for a moment distrusted his 
affection for the beautiful, timid girl he had won from so 
many admirers ; and it w T as the full consciousness of his 
entire devotion that had rendered our heroine more yield- 
ing to her lover's wooing and her father's will. 

Once she had pleaded to be released, and insisted upon 



117 

dissolving their engagement from a sense of justice to him 
and honor to herself; but Horace Stanhope's expression of 
utter hope-abandonment melted her sympathetic soul to pity 
and repentance. 

From that hour, Bertha ceased to struggle against her 
fete, and, as she had written to Edalia, she went 'drifting — 
drifting — on a deep and shoreless sea.' She shut her eyes, 
and tried to close her ears to the scenes and sounds that 
awaited her in a new state she was soon to enter, and went 
blindly and tacitly after her paternal guide. 

Mr. Belmont did not suspect the burning secret that lay 
buried in his daughter's bosom, or he would have stopped 
short of the boundary that shut her out from full freedom 
of thought and action. Bertha was the idol of his heart — 
the pride and pet of his life — and he honestly thought to 
secure her future felicity by uniting her to one so wholly 
heart-given to her as Horace Stanhope. He laughed at her 
1 little foolish fears' and 'silly objections' to her devoted 
lover. His 'large hands' and 'Yankee idioms' were by no 
means derogatory to a worthy character. Horace loved her 
as well as he did himself. His little jealousies that annoyed 
her would die when matrimony removed all doubt and fear 
of eventually obtaining her. Jealousy was a certain proof 
of genuine love. 

Honest and honorable himself, Mr. Belmont searched 
not beneath a shining surface for secret sins ; and Horace 
Stanhope had stains upon his inner life that only keen and 
watchful eyes could discover. Bertha detected them be- 
neath the well-worn mask of conventionalism, even before 
marriage ; and they grew gradually perceptible to her 
father when matrimony rendered circumspection no longer 
politic and necessary to the end in view. 

Mr. Belmont opened his remorseful eyes too late to the 
life-long error he had committed in influencing his daughter 



118 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

against her better judgment and heart - acquiescence, in a 
matter of such vital importance as the bridal vow. 

[Not one month elapsed after Bertha's union, before he 
was forced to exclaim, in sudden surprise and horror, "Oh, 
what a goodly outside falsehood hath ! " 

The wild storm raged without, and Bertha knelt at her 
chamber-window and watched the livid lightning leap from 
cloud to cloud, weaving burning chains along the wrathful 
sky. Once she was fearful of the thunder-burst and leaping 
fire from the wrathful clouds, she would hide in her father's 
bosom, or under the quilt in her darkened chamber ; now 
she was strong and daring, though the quick flash momently 
burned and blinded her vision. 

" It was grand ! It was sublime ! " she said, as the 
thunder-crash came down and the liquid fire flamed. 

Horace Stanhope thought his young wife reckless, as he 
sat and watched her, shrinking himself from the live 
thunder and lurid light. 

" Come from that window, Bertha ! " he commanded. 

" What for, Mr. Stanhope ? I want to see. (Oh, what a 
beautiful chain ! ") 

" Come here, Bertha ! " His tone had a touch of threat 
like muttering thunder rolling up from afar. 

" Please let me stay a little bit. (Oh, what a magnificent 
blaze ! ") 

" You promised to obey me, Bertha, — come ! " 

Bertha went, silently, with an expression akin to martyr- 
dom on her sober face. 

" You are a strange girl, Bertha, to admire such wild 
scenes. I thought you possessed a softer and more feminine 
soul." 

" God made me and the storm too. I am not responsible 
for my nature, Mr. Stanhope." 

" I wish you would call me Horace, Mrs. Stanhope. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 119 

Your ' Mr.' is like December in May. I have told you so 
before." 

" I have tried, but I can't get used to it. I forget. Please 
excuse me. I don't mean to displease or disobey you. It 
is n't our Southern style of speaking of or to our liege lord. 
It does not seem respectful." 

" You must renounce your * Southern style/ now ; you are 
a Yankee's wife, and must learn to be a Yankee." 

" Must ! " 

"Yes. You must forget your past life and 'Southern 
styles,' and live for your husband and his Northern no- 
tions." 

Bertha's small mouth wore a strange expression. Only a 
lynx-eye could have detected a hint of scorn in the firm 
compression. He had drawn her down upon his knee, and 
his Argus eyes searched her countenance. Horace Stan- 
hope took the ' hint,' and it burned him. 

"That is more than I bargained for," she said, dryly. 
" I will try to perform all that I promised at the bridal 
altar, but to forget the past and transform our nature at 
will is not in our power." 

" If you loved me, you would find it easy to conform to 
my wish. It would not have been necessary to call you 
three times before you obeyed." His eyes flashed. 

" I did n't mean to be disobedient ; it was such a small 
thing. I thought you would be willing to gratify me, if 
you knew how I enjoyed the scene. I did n't suppose — " 

"Well? — spit it out." 

Bertha crimsoned with indignation at the Northern vul- 
garism, and made an impulsive movement to leave his knee. 
But he held her fast, with a clouded brow. 

" Let me hear what you 'did n't suppose.' " 

" That you would deprive me of a pleasure simply for the 
sake of exercising your authority and being obeyed." 



120 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" And now, why did you wish to leave my arras just now ? " 

" I am not accustomed to unrefined language, and your 
style of expression startles me sometimes. I am a creature 
of impulse, and often act badly without any wrong motive. 
Don't let me hurt you by sudden starts. I shall get used to 
you after a while," The veriest ghost of a smile hovered 
about her lips, and in her clear hazel eyes. 

" I 'm afraid you are entirely too refined for me, Mrs. 
Stanhope!" There was sarcasm in his tone, and anger in 
his eyes. 

Bertha made no reply, but she wondered why he had not 
made that discovery before it was too late to repair the 
error. 

"Do you think you will ever love me, Bertha?" were his 
next words, in a softened tone. 

She was truthful, and never attempted to deceive. Hy- 
pocrisy was foreign to her nature. She said, frankly : 

" I shall, if you are kind and forbearing. I love you now, 

sometimes." 

« 

" Yes, you love me when I let you have your own way 
and lead me by the nose. I would n't give a d — n for such 
love as that ! " He pushed her from his knee, and sprang 
up, wrathfully. 

Our heroine had never before been so taken by surprise. 
It was the first time she had ever heard him utter a profane 
word. Before her marriage, one of Horace Stanhope's 
rivals had informed her of his proficiency in the art of in- 
terlarding his language with expletives forbidden by the 
Decalogue, and she carried the information to her father, 
which was at once set down by prejudice-blinded Mr. Bel- 
mont to jealousy in a rival — a base calumny. 

Mr. Belmont viewed Horace Stanhope through a rose- 
colored lens, until matrimony broke the glass, and he saw 
clearly. If the father's happiness alone had been involved, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 121 

ft\\ would have pitied him. It was the first time Horace 
Stanhope's passionate soul had made sueh an undisguised 
display, and Bertha stood in mute astonishment and half 
despair a moment ; then she went quietly to her old place 
by the window, and looked out upon the subsiding storm. 

Stanhope was walking the room with restless strides, and 
watching her. Suddenly he sprang to the window, and 
pulled her rudely away. His face was colorless with pas- 
sion. He hissed : 

" Yes, that is your admiration for wild storms and love 
for that window ! You watch and wait for your lovers and 
give them smiles, when you have none for your husband! " 

" You hurt me, Mr. Stanhope," was all she said. 

He threw her arm from him so violently, that she reeled 
and fell against the wall. He reached after her quickly, 
and held her standing before him. 

" Bertha, if you love that man, why did you marry me?" 

" What man, Mr. Stanhope ? " 

"That fellow to whom you just gave your sw r eetest smile, 
when to me you rarely give a beam of light. I saw it all. 
Why did you not marry him, and spare me? " 

" I don't love him, Mr. Stanhope — I never did. I mar- 
ried you, because you w r ould not release me from my hasty 
vow. I told you all then. You cannot now reproach me 
for duplicity. I cannot smile, Mr. Stanhope, when you 
frown, and torment me w T ith ungentle words. Kindness 
may win love, but cruelty will kill." 

She bared her slender arm, and exposed the marks of his 
violence. His finger-prints were plainly seen in red and 
swollen lines, purpling where his ruthless grasp had been. 

It was too much for the soul-sick girl. She dropped upon 
a chair, and burst into tears — the first tears he had ever 
seen her weep. 
11 



122 

Horace Stanhope was on his knees at her feet, in an 
instant. 

11 Forgive me, Bertha ; I did not mean to hurt you. You 
know I love you more than life, and it drives me wild to 
feel you have no love for me." 

He laid his face upon her arm, and kissed the purplish 
prints. 

"I told you so," she sobbed, — " but you would not release 
me, and spare us both. I said we should be unhappy to- 
gether, but you would not listen to my warning ; and now 
it is too late ! " 

"Dear, it is not too late for happiness. Forgive, and 
forget the past, and I will be more careful in the future. 
I would harm myself sooner than you ; but I cannot bear to 
see you smile upon others, and look coldly on me, Bertha." 

" You should not indulge such jealous thoughts, Mr. 
Stanhope. Love cannot be forced — it is not the growth of 
years, nor gift of will. It is my nature to be led, and not 
driven. I love you when you are kind and gentle, but I 
cannot smile and affect fondness, when your reproaches and 
unjust suspicions repel me. If you will let me live in peace, 
and not watch and question me continually, your hopes of 
being loved as you say you love me, will sooner be realized." 

" I will try, Bertha, if you will not speak to him again." 

" To whom, Mr. Stanhope ? " 

" That fellow, Harry Herbert. He 's a scoundrel, to be 
hanging round a married woman, and seeking every oppor- 
tunity to annoy me by his villanous smiles and attentions." 

" Mr. Stanhope ! I have not exchanged a dozen words 
with him since our marriage ; and his attentions have been 
too slight for remembrance. He has the reputation of 
being an honorable man, and is a prominent member of 
the church." 

" Such fellows are the most dangerous ! If a reward 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 123 

were offered for the grandest rascal in existence, I 'd go 
to the church-fold to find him ! Will you promise me, 
Bertha ? " 

"It will reflect dishonor upon you, Mr. Stanhope, — 
people will suspect the cause; and. your reputation is dear 
to me." 

" Let them suspect. I will take the responsibility. He 
loved you before your marriage, and the fellow annoys me 
by his efforts at gallantry and saintly smiles. Will you 
promise, Bertha ? " 

" I will, if it will disarm your jealousy, and leave me in 
peace." 

And so the days went on ; more quiet, but not more hope- 
ful, to Bertha. Horace Stanhope had fallen in her estima- 
tion since their marriage, and the great void in her young 
heart was fast filling up with bitter waters. 

Having married him through the influence of her father 
and brother, and trusting to his own affection to learn to 
reciprocate it, there was no love to hide his defects, and 
restrain the contempt irresistibly inspired by a constant ex- 
posure of his mental deformity. 

It was a bitter pain for one of her yearning and poetic 
temperament to feel the up-gushings of scorn for him to 
whom she was securely bound by a life-long vow — for weal 
or for woe ! 

Bertha looked off into the veiled future, with sunless 
spirit-eyes, and the great cry of her struggling soul was : 
" When will it end f " 

Disease fastened upon her frail form, and through the 
long, weary months of autumn and winter shut her in from 
the admiring and sympathizing world. 

After that wild August storm, " Bertha the Beauty " was 
seen no more beyond her clouded home, until the first bird 
of spring time sent up its silvery song in the budding wood- 



124 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

lands ; and she was providentially spared the pain of meet- 
ing a kind Christian friend with unjustifiable and inexpli- 
cable coldness. 

And "Bertha the Beauty is dying!" was heard, day 
after day, in the great world where she had so lately reigned 
in maiden loveliness — the admired of all admirers. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

A TEMPERANCE LECTURE. — JONESES STORE. 

THE whistling winds of a cold December day made frost- 
work upon the window-panes, as Edalia came in from 
a visit to Minnie. 

Mr. Redmond was away in the town of Tarboro', on 
business pertaining to his profession ; and Walter, she 
imagined, was mentally merged in a ponderous pile of 
formidable folios in the office. 

Though gentle in his demeanor and ever considerate, he 
had grown apparently colder and more constrained since 
the circumstance occasioned by that wild August storm ; 
and nature had constituted Edalia for a consummate illus- 
tration of the principle permeating Cowper's couplet : 

" The man I trust, if shy to me, 
Will find me as reserved as he." 

She was surprised, on entering the parlor, to find him ex- 
tended upon a sofa, apparently in profound enjoyment of 
" tired nature's sweet restorer." 

Edalia drew back instinctively, meditating a retreat ; but 
the crimson hue of his cheeks wrought a revulsion of feel- 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 125 

ing. She went surreptitiously up and knelt beside him, 
and laid her hand softly upon his forehead ; it was burning 
hot, and the swollen blue veins upon his temples throbbed 
with fever. 

Alarmed at the symptoms, she uttered a correspondent 
exclamation. He opened his eyes and smiled. 

Edalia arose quickly, and remarked, quietly : 

" You require medical aid, Walter ; I shall summon Dr. 
Montrose." 

" No ; it is unnecessary. Come and sit here, Edalia. It 
is but a transient ailment. Come here, Edie." 

He had not, since boyhood, addressed her by that pet 
name. She drew an ottoman beside him, and granted his 
request. He laid her hand upon his flushed forehead, and 
looked earnestly into her eyes, murmuring : 

" Oh, fate, fate ! " 

A pallor overspread his face. He lay thoughtfully a 
moment, then continued, with an effort : 

" Edalia, will you marry Colonel Henley ? " 

"Never! Colonel Henley possesses no interest in my 
heart paramount to friendship. I have declined the honor 
he proposed to confer." 

He smiled again, and the rose returned to his cheeks. 

" I rejoice at this disclosure ; for, though obviously a de- 
sirable conquest as regards wealth and station, yet Colonel 
Henley stands upon the brink of a precipice, and I would 
not have my — I would not have you, Edalia, unite your 
destiny with one of whom we have so frail security against 
eventual precipitation. May heaven avert from you, Edie, 
the calamity that has befallen Minnie Chester — an inebri- 
ate's wife ! " 

"Poor Minnie! Is there no hope of Charles, Walter? 
Can he not be reclaimed ? " 

" Without some restraint involving his honor, there is no 
11* 



126 

hope, Edalia; but we should uever despair iu an effort for 
the accomplishment of a worthy object. I can harbor no 
hope of his reformation until he pledges himself to total 
abstinence from all intoxicating beverages. Men will bru- 
talize their nature in an hour of unbridled passion who 
would hold inviolate a promise reflecting upon their honor ; 
and Charles, though led captive by sensuality, degenerate, 
and sadly fallen, has this redeeming trait." 

" He must — he will be saved ; perchance to-night." 

" Alas, no ! he will not attend. Do you go, Edalia ? " 

"I shall, if— " 

"Ifwhat,Edie?" 

He drew her gently toward him, and pulled her curls 
playfully over his eyes and lips. 

" I shall, if uncle returns, and — " 

He interrupted her. 

" If uncle returns ? Won't you let me be your escort, 
Edalia?" 

" With pleasure, if you desire it ; — but Agnes — ? " 

The color deepened on his brow as he replied : 

" Ever mindful of Agnes ! Do you love her so truly ? " 

" I love her very dearly." 

" Would you have me marry Agnes, Edalia?" 

" If it is your wish. I desire your happiness, Walter." 

He started up. The rich blood rushed to his face, and 
his eyes flashed. He stooped, wound his arms around her 
w r aist, and lifted her to the sofa beside him. 

" My happiness ! It is in — do you think I could — " 

He ceased, rose hastily up, ejaculating vehemently: 

" Great God ! — I dare not ! " 

He was deathly white. 

Mr. Kedmond's cheerful voice echoed up from the yard 
in answer to the familiar greeting of petted little Dick, and 
Edalia slipped silently away. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 127 

It was a cold clear night, lit with myriad stars, and the 
crescent moon streaking the dark violet sky with a pathway 
of silver radiance. 

Edalia walked to the old school-house with Walter. Mr. 
Redmond chaperoned Agnes. The large room was crowded 
to its utmost capacity with the gay villagers — old men and 
maidens, young men and mothers — an heterogeneous mass 
huddled together, with curious hearts to witness the novel 
scene. 

A Temperance Lecture was a novel affair in this quiet 
country place, and eagerly the excited inhabitants gathered 
together to enjoy a scene so rare. 

The desks were ranged around the wide walls, and little 
children — neat and rosy, ragged and pale — nestled upon 
the niched and ink-stained lids, peering with great wonder- 
ing eyes over the heads of the adult audience, toward the 
speaker's stand. 

He rose — a tall, thin man, with clear gray eyes and sil- 
very hair. His voice was low and plaintive as he portrayed 
the sufferings of woman arising from this curse of man : 
the toiling, careworn wife ; the cheerless hearth ; the pale 
and famished offspring ; the dark and dreary future, dim 
with weeping over loved ones imbruted by this desolating 
scourge, — and a stifled sob arose from weary ones in that 
dense and hushed assembly. 

Gradually his voice expanded ; his gray eye flashed ; the 
hot blood crept to his pale brow ; and " Death to the Tyrant ! " 
was greeted with a burst of applause. 

He sat down, and " Henley ! Henley ! " floated through 
the crowd as the tumult subsided. 

Edalia started with surprise and indignation to behold 
him answer to the call, and ascend the stand to combat the 
principles of the aged speaker. 

She said, mentally : 



128 

''Man! God-like man! created in the image of his 
Maker, prostituting the glorious gifts of Divinity to the 
perversion of truth, in the sustenance of an evil that has 
deluged the world with woe, and drifted innocent and help- 
less hearts out upon the wide ocean of despair, and ingulfed 
them in the whirling maelstrom of death ! " 

It was a bold and brilliant advocacy of the cause he 
espoused, but " Mene, mene, tekel upharsin " was written, 
with the glitter of his own eloquent sophistry, upon the 
already tarnished fame of Tom Henley. It was meet that 
a libertine should advocate the cause of the " enemy that 
steals away the brain." 

Beside Edalia sat a pale, feeble woman, gazing implor- 
ingly, with tearful eyes, at the handsome face of the gifted 
speaker. 

Walter turned his large blue orbs upon her, and they 
emitted the brilliancy of diamonds. His face crimsoned, 
and he grew restless. As Henley closed his defence he 
sprang up, unbidden, and advanced toward the stand. 

"Eldon! Eldon!" echoed around, and the old room rang 
again. 

It was his first effort at public debate, and Edalia trem- 
bled with excitement. Mr. Redmond glanced toward her, 
as the young man sprang, with graceful elasticity, upon the 
platform, and his eyes snapped and glittered with proud 
animation. 

An appearance of shrinking and timidity overspread his 
features as his eyes wandered over that silent assembly, and 
he realized his position ; but turning boldly and scornfully 
toward the last speaker, and pointing his finger at the won- 
dering Henley, he exclaimed, in a full and distinct tone : 

" Woe unto you ! — you entered not in yourself, and those 
that were entering in you hindered ! " 

He grew assured and fearless ; his face became radiant 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 129 

with the sunshine of a noble and sympathizing soul. His 
voice rose and fell with the plaints and ecstasies of feeling, 
and his fine form swayed and expanded with the ebb and 
flow of eloquence, and the flashes of wit and enthusiasm. 

Henley turned pale beneath his stinging sarcasm and 
scathing wit, and the old lecturer smiled. 

" God bless him ! " breathed the feeble woman beside 
Edalia, as tears and smiles struggled for predominance in 
her faded, sunken eyes. 

Walter descended from the stand, and resumed his seat 
beside Edalia, amid a storm of applause from the admiring 
audience. 

Calmly and inquiringly he looked into the young girl's 
eyes. She laid her hand impulsively in his. He clasped 
it with his own peculiar clasp — gentle and soft, but firm 
as adamant. 

The Pledge w r as brought forward and handed through 
the assembly, and name after name ran down the double 
column. 

Edalia watched with intense interest the pale sufferer 
beside her. Her dilated eyes were fixed upon a haggard 
man in a distant quarter, as the official member approached 
him and presented the Pledge. He glanced toward her 
and smiled, grasped the white sheet resolutely, and hastily 
affixed his signature. She clasped her small, toil-hardened 
hands nervously, dropped her face upon them, and a tremor 
agitated her bowed form. 

" Thank God, there is one more trophy ! " exclaimed 
Walter Eldon, with a sigh of relief. 

A loud acclamation went up from the ragged and riotous 
portion of the assembled rustics as they issued from the old 
school-house into the keen wintry air : 

"Hurraw for Colonel Henley! — hurraw for handsome 
Hen ! " 

I 



130 

Edalia shuddered, and clung closer to her companion, 
mentally contrasting his proud manly worth with the mis- 
erable debauched crew. 

Wending homeward, a mercantile establishment after the 
country order threw its streams of candle-light across -their 
way. 

This establishment was at once the repository of dry- 
goods, hardware, groceries, confections, and malt liquors, 
indiscriminately blended, and was known to all the country 
round as " Jones's Store." 

Old Jones had gone the way of all the earth long years 
ago, with the assistance of his own excellent brandies and 
a drunken M.D., but his name lived on in the famous insti- 
tution he had founded ; and hunters and trappers of wild 
beasts found Jones's Store a wonderful convenience for dis- 
posing of the animals' skins, and refreshing their inner man 
with the liquid proceeds. 

Bertha's brother — little Claude Belmont — had, in early 
childhood, been cheated into senseless intoxication by the 
founder of this establishment for his own amusement ; and 
mother and sister never forgave the soulless deceiver. 

Old Jones slept soundly now in his cold bed, and his 
" Store " was destined to lay many more as low as him- 
self. 

Edalia caught the name of her companion through the 
unclosed door, and laughingly arrested his progress, survey- 
ing the group within through a broken window-pane. 

" I say, Gov'ner, did you hear young Eldon's maiden 
speech ? " 

" No." 

" Then, by jux, you missed a figure there, old boy ! Haw, 
h-a-w ! — the way he did put Hen's chunk out was a sin to 
Davy Crockett ! " 

" Good ! Well, I '11 swing by the seven stars if I did n't 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 131 

always say he'd make a famous lawyer! How did Tom 
take it?" 

" Take it ! Je-rusalem ! (Give us a horn o' brandy, 
Boniface ; I 'm deuced dry. None o' your wish-a-washy 
stuff — brandy 'n sugar — but a good mug o' the ginequine, 
to wet my whistle with.) Take it ! < Oe-ation ! He col- 
lapsed quicker ! — knocked right under, and looked savage 
as a meat-axe in the holidays! " 

Mr. Peterroy Simpkins here stalked up from the farther 
extremity of the store, and hooking both thumbs in the arm- 
holes of his flaming satin vest, put his shining boots as far 
apart as comfort allowed, and throwing his small, round 
head back until the cigar in the corner of his lordly mouth 
stood up like a stove-pipe, he responded : 

" Beg pardon for dissenting from your sapient judgment, 
Mr. Tomlin; but, in my most humble opinion, Colonel Hen- 
ley's address was immeasurably exalted to an eminence 
far beyond Mr. Eldon's capabilities to attain. Mr. Eldon's 
powers of oratory, sir, are emphatically and incontestably 
ordinary — ordinary, sir, in the literal acceptation of the 
term. . He betrays a lamentable deficiency in genius and 
reprehensible neglect and inconsiderateness with reference 
to the segregation of labials, which, by an oral combina- 
tion, produce euphony upon the tympanum of the sen- 
tient organ, while Colonel Henley's oration was ornate, 
and replete with all the transcendent expletives of — " 

" Go to the devil with your dictionary, you barrel o' soap ! 
I say Wall 's a trump, and no mistake, — bumped Hen's 
knowledge-box with a witness, and no dodgin' ! Say, Major, 
what 's the price o' this calico ? " 

" Twelve 'n half cent." 

" Twelve kingdoms ! W-h-e-w ! Say ten, and it 's a go — 
plank down, and no grabbin'." 

" Can't do it ; cost me leven 'n New York." 



132 

" Crackee ! — that 's a whopper ! But I 'm bound to try- 
it on, or the old woman '11 buzz about my ears like green 
flies round 'lasses - flitters ! Cut me off eight yards, old 
Skinflint, and charge it to the town-pump. I say, fellers, 
I '11 bet a gallon of old Griper's best, "Wall and that little 
blaek-eyed Ed '11 make a match of it." 

Edalia started convulsively, and struggled to retreat ; 
but, throwing an arm around her waist, he held her firmly 
but gently. 

" Please let us go," she pleaded, with crimson face. 

" Wait a moment," he said, softly ; but she did not see 
the lips that uttered it, and the eyes that searched for hers. 

"I have the honor to inform you, Mr. Tomlin," said 
Peter, " that Mr. Eldon is affianced to Miss Bentley ; and 
I have it from an authentic source, that their nuptials will 
be consummated as early as compatible with his financial 
affairs." 

" Creation ! — you don't say ? Well, I live too fur in the 
woods to be posted in such things; but I'd a-swore he loved 
her; and you may take my hat if the gipsy don't love him 
— no two ways 'bout that I 've been an amorous swain 
once upon a time, and it did me good to see the round tears 
shine in her black eyes to-night, while Wall was put'n hell 
to the Colonel. I '11 take that bet back, Pete ; can't afford 
to waste a gallon on a lost game. She's an all-fired pretty 
girl — prettiest one in these parts, now that ' Bertha the 
Beauty is gone — no two ways about that ! " 

A slight tremor was perceptible in the manly arm that 
gradually tightened around Edalia during this speech, re- 
sisting her efforts to escape. 

" I importunately implore your most gracious and mag- 
nanimous lenity for a duplicate dissent from your mature 
judgment, Mr. Tomlin; but in my opinion, Miss Redmond's 
personal attractions are by no means above mediocrity, in- 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 133 

controvcrtibly ; and her mental acquirements and constitu- 
tional temperament, I am fully qualified to assert, operate 
as a centrifugal — " 

"I say, old Closefist, give this man a dose o' peppermint. 
He 's swallowed Walker, and run aginst a snag ! Jim-i-ny ! 
Well, I 'd a bet a cool hundred, he and Ed would a fixed 
it! Splendid match it would make, on the equal division 
plan ; for, thanks to his old rum-guzzling father (like me ! ) 
Wall 's poor as market-milk, and she 's rich as cream-crust ! 
Say, old Money tight, give us another bung-starter. I 'm 
goin' to have one more blow-out with brandy, and then sign 
the Pledge ! " 

A roar of laughter followed this announcement. 

" I tell you, fellers, I 've got waked up to-night ; I b'lieve 
nature meant me for something more 'n makin' worm-fences, 
with a brick in my hat; and if it hadn't been for — but 
mum 's the word, boys ; a man 's bound to stick up for his 
country and his wife! Goin' to marry Agnes, eh? Je- 
miny ! " 

A footstep was heard advancing ; they left their position 
and hastened homeward, proceeding in unbroken silence, until 
Mr. Redmond's hand fell, jocularly, upon Walter's shoulder. 

He started and spoke, but his voice was strange — 
sepulchral ! 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

LITTLE CHARLIE. — "NO HOPE." 

THE old clock in the corner chimed one. Agnes rose 
and bent over the slumberer. The long brown lashes 
lay in thick fringe upon her snow-white cheeks. She was 
12 



134 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

lovely, but sadly changed from the bright, brilliant Minnie 
Montrose of other days. 

A tiny wail came from the downy cushions of a cradle- 
bed and touched the sensitive ear of the young mother. She 
opened her languid eyes and whispered : 

" Charlie." 

Agnes lifted the wee thing in her w T hite arms, and laid it 
sobbing upon the bosom of its girl-mother. She pressed its 
round chubby cheek to her thin face, and raising her dim 
blue eyes to Edalia's, murmured : 

" Has he come ? " 

" Not yet. Try to sleep, Minnie dear ; it is not so late." 

She turned away with a suppressed and shuddering sigh, 
whispering : 

"Lost! lost!" 

Two ! rang out upon the death-like stillness of night — 
ebbing away — away in the dim distance — it died. 

Footsteps echoed in the hall, heedless and dull. The 
chamber-door was thrown rudely open, and Charles Chester, 
bloody and blustering, reeled into the room. 

"Sh, Charles," — and Edalia pointed to the sleeper. 

He drew his hand abstractedly across his brow, crept 
cautiously to the bedside, and gazed remorsefully upon the 
wan face of the young sufferer. The scene half sobered him, 
and recalled his scattered senses. He laid his face upon the 
pillow, and groaned : 

" Wretch ! " 

" Charles, there is blood upon your face ! It would kill 
her to see you thus ! " 

Dr. Montrose led him unresistingly from the chamber. 

Agnes sank back amid the velvet cushions of the old arm- 
chair and sobbed, as the young husband and father passed 
with unsteady step through the closing door. 

Edalia sat at her feet, and leaned her head upon the chair- 
arm. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 135 

" Oh, Edie ! what a scene ! So noble, and yet so lost ! 
There is no hope now, Edie! The last pale star is extin- 
guished ! He has descended to a depth where reputation is 
lost in indifference ! " 

Edalia made no reply, but "no hope" lingered upon her 
ear and crept startlingly through every lane of memory. 
The brightness of two short weeks was overcast, and the 
sunlight gathered behind the gloom, only gushed through 
transparencies in the dense black cloud, to trace in letters 
of fiery light — " no hope ! " 

Sitting there at the feet of the betrothed bride of him 
whom she had feared and shunned as fated to stand in the 
same relation to her, without power, on her part, to escape 
her destiny, Edalia wondered and choked at the conviction 
of the great change that had come over her since that feel- 
ingly far-distant time — seventeen months ago. 

Sitting there, in the silent chamber of the broken-hearted 
wife of him she had once so loved, she thanked heaven, from 
a full heart, that no irrevocable bond bound her to one so 
fallen and irreclaimable. 

Sitting there, in the still small hours of the ghostly and 
grieving night, she went back through the years that were 
gone, and wondered why God had chosen them — the once 
happy and love-linked trio — to suffer, most of all the young 
and merry crowd that had grown up to blooming woman- 
hood together. Bertha w T as fading fast aw T ay — a frail ship 
at sea, tossed by the rude winds and rough waves ; — a little 
longer buffeting of the swelling waters and strengthening 
storm, and the helmless bark would go down beneath the 
dark billows ! 

Minnie was dying of hope deferred ! The little spring 
buds that jewelled the rose-tree in the garden of her youthful 
life had been blighted by early frost, ere their green cups 
had held the fragrant unfolded blossoms. The last one that 



136 BEETIIA 

promised fair to open in the trembling sunshine of a new 
morning, had fallen now in the wintry chill of a starless 
night ! Soon that weak heart must be crushed into silence 
beneath the weight of its withered hopes, and she would be 
alone. Alone! — nothing to reach after and live for! 
Nothing to lead her on, day after day, shining up in the 
future, with promise of overtaking it after a while. Life was 
a blank sheet, with no " Watch, Wait, and Hope " written 
by fortune's finger for her ! 

Edalia held her breath to suppress a sob ; Minnie slept 
on in blissful unconsciousness of her husband's fall into 
deeper degradation ; Agnes sat very still, with closed eyes, 
and small waxen hands clasping a visible prayer ; and the 
soft September winds made sad melody around the eaves, 
blending their grieving moans with her mental grief. 



CHAPTER XXV. 



KELATIVES. 



IT is a low dilapidated frame house, in Berkshire County, 
Massachusetts. Silas Stanhope, the brother of Horace, 
is the proprietor. Silas is a good, honest, hard-working, 
humble-minded man. He wears a shocking bad hat, patched 
trousers, brown shirt, and no shoes. He is as low in stature 
as he is in mind, and as easy in disposition as Mr. Belmont 
himself. 

Silas has a small " farm " of rocks and grass, Indian corn 
of very short stalks, Irish potatoes, and thickly-set onions. 

'The "farm" is cut up into small squares, triangles, quad- 
rangles, ad infinitum, by low fences, to separate the onions 



137 

from the small corn, and the small corn from the big rocks 
and tall grass. 

Beyond the low dilapidated frame house, the "farm" is 
pushed up by nature into high lands, groaning beneath the 
weight of granite piles gathered from the cultivated parts 
by immense labor, and heaped for future use in running 
stone walls; till then, a snug refuge for snakes and cunning 
chipmucks. 

The high lands behind the frame house are sacred to 
winter-apple, chestnut, and walnut-trees, inaccessible until 
the growth of long, suspicious-looking grass is cut short, and 
raked into high and dry hay mounds. Yankee carefulness 
forbids a foot upon the green sea, until the luxuriant crop 
is safely beyond the injury of a heedless step. You must 
go round your elbow to get to your thumb, where grass is 
cultivated for food. 

On the right of the dilapidated frame house is a good- 
sized barn, lonely in seeming, as is indeed the whole country 
around. Turn your eyes in any direction and they hit 
against hills before they reach the length of their line of 
vision. 

And dotting those hills are tiny white specks of houses, 
clinging to the sides, seemingly, in an uncertain state of 
security, with little sickly lines of blue smoke, lazily curl- 
ing from the small cages seeking an outlet from the rock- 
bound vale in the upper air. 

You look around the deep, silent, solemn valley, and feel 
as though you had been shipwrecked in sleep, and washed 
into a funnel ; and you try, day-long, to look over the high, 
hard rim from the lonely hollow and catch a cheering 
glimpse of the broad level Beulah lands of your dear sweet 
native South. 

On the left of the dilapidated frame house is a cow-yard 
and pig-pen; three cows and one pig are the occupants ; and 
12* 



138 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Silas Stanhope and three sons are milking and feeding the 
grunting and lowing quadrupeds. 

Silas wears a garment over his pants that puts you to the 
blush with its peculiar cut. You have never seen it worn 
in that fashion before, and think it highly unbecoming as 
an outer garment ; and though you find you have misnamed 
the article, it does not lessen its likeness to the original nor 
increase your kindness for the custom. 

There are no flowers or flowering shrubs and vines about 
the door and in the narrow yard before the frame house. 
There are no instruments of music beneath the low roof, 
besides the strong lungs of a Yankee babe and cooking- 
utensils. 

Martha Stanhope, the wife and mother, is a large, sun- 
burnt and fire-faded woman, with blue eyes and black hair. 
She is hard-working and weary-looking, but carries a kind, 
lovable nature under an unrefined exterior. If you con- 
verse with the tired housewife about the cares and vexa- 
tions of this life, she will tell you, frankly : 

" If I 'd known I should 've had five children, and such 
a lot of work to do, I never would 've married ! " 

Silas turns his good-natured eyes upon her as he sits in a 
home-made chair by the kitchen-fire, and smiles in his easy, 
quiet way. Then he puts his bare toes nearer the warm 
blaze, and nods after his hard day's work. 

It was Monday, and the soap-suds flew and hissed under 
Martha Stanhope's flushed face, and whitened her red arms 
laid bare to the shoulders. 

" Five children and a man make lots of work for one 
woman every Monday," she said, soberly. 

The soap-suds spattered and hissed, and the baby splut- 
tered and cooed as it crawled around the kitchen on a tour 
of inspection. Martha Stanhope said her baby went on pick-it 
duty every wash-day, while her arm-j lay in clothes quarters. 






THE BEAUTY. 139 

Silas made an unexpected advent into Martha's presence, 
with an unusually brisk step, holding an open letter in his 
brown hand. 

" I say, Mat, Horace is married ! " 

"I want tew know! "said Martha, squeezing the soap-suds 
from her red arms and drying them with her apron. 

" Sure 'a a gun, Hor 's married ; to a Southern beauty at 
that, and worth seventeen thousand dollars ! " 

"Dew tell!" ejaculated Martha, wiping the perspiration 
and soap-suds from her face and smoothing out her apron to 
dry. " Wall, Horace is ra-al harnsome, and I don't wonder 
he done so well." 

" I hope he hain't deceived the girl, and not git intew 
trouble when he 's found eout. Horace is harnsome, but a 
sad dog — never would settle down tew honest work, but 
must run oft" tew New Yorick as counter-hopper ; and now 
he 's way down in North Caroliny 'mong the nasty niggers, 
and married tew a rich beauty ! Here it is : ' Bertha the 
Beauty ' — that 's what she 's called." 

" Be they com in' on ? " 

" Guess not — narthin' said 'bout it in this document. 
Mr. Belmont, his father-in-law, has set him up in business 
— has a good store, and if he settles down soberly, he may 
dew well. But I have my doubts if the boy has sowed all 
his wild oats yet. If she has Southern fire in 'er, she '11 
burn 'im some time, if he 's the same Horace that used tew 
work on my farm. You remember Sue Tolman?" 

" Yas ; an' it broke her heart ! Horace is dreadful jeal- 
ous-minded — that 's so." 

"If his wife is fiery, he won't break her heart; but she'll 
break his head, if he treats her as he did Sue. If he 'd mar- 
ried that girl, as he promised, 't would a' bin worse for her 
an' better for the one he 's got now, I 'm thinkin' ! " 

" I wonder Horace married. I set him down for an old 



140 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

bach'. Such harnsome men don't often marry — they 're too 
vain and fond of flirtin' with the girls ; and Horace -was 
dreadful proud of his beauty and precious self generally. 
And then, he's only twenty-three." 

" The fellow 's in love ; I can see that as clear as you can 
my nose. And that '11 make it all the w T orse for her ; for 
he '11 torment 'er tew death or fury with his green eyes. 
Horace is the jealousest rascal that ever lived after Blue- 
beard. Why, he showed it in everything. If mother give 
me a piece of pie as much bigger than his as I was of him, 
he 'd cry for another bit, tew r be even with mine. No girl 
ever loved a boy better 'n Sue Tolinan did him, and he 
deserted 'er from suspicion, and broke her heart! And that 
ain't all. There 's Annette Lynn, whose good name he 
ruined; and the Lord knows how many more! And all 
because his face was harnsome, an' beauty made 'im vain." 

" Yas ; Horace thought he had the world in a sling and 
could heave it over the moon, because the girls showed their 
hook before the fish bit. I wonder if Bertha courted him, 
or he her? I don't know the Southern style, but I must 
say it 's about half-and-half here, since my day ; perhaps 
three-fourths, w T ith the girls! It dooz beat the world how 
they do court the men, nowadays ! " 

" Horace will do well enough if he can keep the green 
out 'n 'is eyes. He has a good heart, an' is a rale gentleman 
outside. I hope he did n't pass himself off as the nephew 
of John Jacob Astor — it's like 'im, though. He always 
was proud, and held a head higher than his purse. I 'd like 
tew know if he 's fooled the girl. If he has he '11 get burnt, 
I '11 bet ; for they say them Southern girls spit fire ! Wall, 
I don't know how you feel about it, but I have a sort o' 
notion it won't end well. I wonder girls will marry 
strangers." 

" You know the old saying, ' Strange faces.' If she 's 



BEAUTY. 141 

rich and beautiful, she loves him, of course ; or she would n't 
a-took him and left better; for there 's always plenty tew 
run after money, if there 's no beauty along with it; and a 
little love will forgive a good many sins. But perhaps 
Horace hain't deceived her, at last." 

"I don't know — Horace never set out for a thing but 
he 'd have it at any cost of truth and honor. And the way 
he loves her, from the talk of this letter, I would n't trust 
'im for honesty. He never had much of it in his best days, 
for he was continually running intew debt, without any 
prospect of gettin' eout ; and, in the end, some of us would 
have tew foot the bill tew save his credit ! He give me a 
saddle once worth fifteen dollars, and in a week he took it 
away tew help pay a bill he 'd run up in Pittsfield. And 
the whole of that bill ain't paid tew this day — the dis- 
honest dog ! " 

" If Bertha's property gits intew his hands, there won't be 
much left of it in a few years, I dew think ! Horace is the 
only spendthrift — or ' black sheep," as they call him — in 
the family ; the rest of 'em know 7 how tew keep money well 
enough. Horace never could hold on tew a dollar long 
enough tew keep seed in his pocket tew swear by. It 
slipped right through his fingers tew feed his w 7 hims ; and 
then he 'd borrow as long as a body would lend, and trust 
tew luck tew carry him threough." 

" Yas, that 's so. And he always got threough with my 
money, or some of his family's, who had more care for his 
character than he had himself, until he took that saddle tew 
pay for his meanness, i" shan't square any more bills for 
him — I veow ! I should n't w T onder a mite if he was in 
debt when he married, and his wife's father '11 have tew 
settle the claims ! And won't that stir up his new relations, 
I 'd like tew know ? " 

Even while Silas was privately commenting upon his 



142 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

brother's worth, Mr. Belmont was paying the merchant 
and tailor in Williamsville for Horace Stanhope's wedding- 
suit ! He had married the old man's daughter without suf- 
ficient means in his purse to pay for his bridal outfit ! 
It was on this occasion that Mr. Belmont exclaimed : 
" Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath ! " 
It was then that Bertha discovered her husband had 
neither honor nor sense of shame ; and the respect he had 
inspired by his refined deportment, tender devotion, and 
personal charms, fell silently away, and left her hopeless 
and helpless — fastened by Fate, to a mockery of manhood, 
with the Gordian knot of a lifelong vow 

The Southern merchant and tailor smilingly informed the 
mortified and offended father : 
" It was only a Yankee trick ! " 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

EDALIA BETRAYS HER SECRET SORROW. — WALTER 



LOB,' bless yer heart, honey ! Miss Min 's nuthm' but a 
shadder ! I tuck them grapes in rnyse'f, an' I 'clare, 
honey, I like ter bust out cryin' the minit I seed 'er! I 
don't b'lieve she '11 live long — po' thing ! She looks pine 
blank like Miss Evy 'fore she died!" And Aunt Cora 
groaned, as she moved about the tea-table. 

"Did you see Charles, aunty?" 

" Yes, chile ; he was dare, lookin' as sorry an' sick as ef 
'e was set'n by 's mammy's grave wid de baby in 'is lap ! 
Bless its little heart, it dunno what trouble it 's born ter in 
dis wicked worP, honey — po' thing ! Ef Mars Charles on'y 



143 

would sign de Pledge, as da calls it. But it 's mighty hard 
ter break loose when de brandy is got holt on 'em onct. Ter 
think Mars Charles Chester would ever git drunk an' fight ! 
Bakes alive! I don' blame 'iiu fur whippin' 'im, do, honey, 
fur my ole man ses how he was at de store comin' from de 
quarter ter see me, an' hearn Mars Peter talkin' some big 
words 'bout Miss Min, an' de fust he knowed Mars Peter 
was a-rollin' on de floor, an' Mars Charles 'long top on 'im ! 
Dat's all brandy's good fur, honey — ter ruin characters 
an' break hearts ! Rum is jest like de ole sarpint in de 
'Rabian Nights, what Mars Wallie used ter read ter you, 
chile, when he was a little boy. Jest let 'im git out 'n de 
bottle onct, an' he '11 swell an' swell ter a big giant ; an' it 's 
mighty hard work ter fool 'im back ergin, an' git a .chance 
ter put in de stopper on 'im ! Dey better not tech it at fust, 
honey. I hopes my little missus '11 never see trouble 'bout 
dat — ole Aunt Cory does." 

"No, for I shall never marry, aunty." 

" Shaw ! — you thinks so now, chile, but you '11 git marred 
bumby, honey — ole Aunt Cory knows you will. I hopes 
it won't be ter a mean Yanky, do, like Miss Bert — po' 
thing ! I hearn Mars Peter say she looks like a ghose, an' 
Mars Belmont has turned her husban' out o' doors fur his 
meanness. She better not a had 'im at fust, honey. 'Pears 
like de pootiest gals is de mose onluckiest — it does so! 
'Cause why ? Dey haves so many chances dey dunno which 
ter take fust, an' dey gits de meanest at last ! Miss Aggy 
is de lucky chile. I wishes Mars Wallie 'd never gone ter 
Verginny ; I 'd gin anything ter see you an' him marred, 
honey — I sot my heart on it long ergo. Di says she seed 
Miss Aggy's weddin'-frock at Miss Crissy's dis mornin' — 
white muslin all kivered over wid lace, an' satin buttons 
and bows. Miss Crissy tole Miss Hattie Simpkins, 't was in 
a whisper, an' Di hurd it. Ain't you gwine to be brides- 
maid, honey ? " 



144 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" I don't know, aunty ; Agnes has never spoken to me on 
the subject." 

A choking sensation seized Edalia ; she turned away, and 
leaned upon the window-sill. 

The round October moon threw a shower of silver radi- 
ance through the old sycamore limbs, sweeping the slum- 
berous eaves, down upon the red leaves and sparkling grass ; 
spreading a soft, misty gauze over the moaning tree-tops in 
the dusky grove ; and a whippoorwill set up its plaint off 
in the moonlit hazy woods, waking the painful hush of 
nature with a pulse of life. 

A wind-waft came up from the silent graveyard, dimly 
outlined in the gray of twilight, moaning through the 
boughs, and sweeping onward with a low and pensive sound, 
far away through the mellow moonlight — and the great 
heart of night stood still. 

A hand was laid gently upon the young girl's bowed 
head, and a gay voice startled her sluggish blood to a 
swifter flow. 

" O Edie ! twine the laurel around the Victor's brow ! 
The day is won, and — why, Edie ? " 

His light tone died away, and he stood looking at her, 
sadly and in silence. 

" In tears, Edalia ! — why does she weep, aunty ? " 

" Lor' bless yer heart, chile, I dunno, honey ! She jes 
bin talkin' ter Aunt Cory, piert as a cricket ! What 's de 
matter wid de chile? " 

"Nothing, aunty, but the cool wind and flower-pollen 
vexing my weak eyes. And you have triumphed, Walter? 
Let me congratulate you upon your success at the com- 
mencement of your professional career." 

Disregarding her reference, he turned and said, mischiev- 
ously : 

" Tell me what she was talking about, aunty." 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 145 

" Oh, ever so many things, honey — 'bout Miss Min an' 
Murs Charles, an' Miss Aggy, an' — " 

"And what of Agnes?" he interrupted. 

"She did n' say nuthin' — on'y I was tellin' 'er 'bout Miss 
Aggy's widdin'-frock. When is you gwine ter be marred, 
honey ? " 

'* In about five years, aunty." 

" Luddy, chile ! de white frock '11 turn yaller 'fore then, 
sakes alive ! " 

"Come from that window, Edalia ; the 'cool wind and 
flower-pollen are vexing your weak eyes ' again." 

With a bright smile and glowing cheek he drew her hand 
within his arm and led her into the parlor. 

He placed her in the full blaze of the candle-light, and 
leaning over to command a fair view of her face, said : 

" When is Agnes to be married ? Be still, Edalia, and 
answer me." 

" I don't know. She has not made me her confidante." 

He smiled strangely. 

" Whom is she to wed, Edalia ? " 

" I am utterly ignorant." 

" But what says rumor? " 

" Mr. Eldon, I object to this catechizing when your in- 
formation far surpasses mine. Allow me to remove from 
this glare ; it is absolutely blinding." 

"Mr. Eldon! Edalia ! this from your 9 

" Forgive me, Walter ; I — " 

A suffocating sensation rendered abortive every effort to 
articulate another syllable. 

He put his arm around her waist, and lifting her face 
with his open palm, laid her head back upon his shoulder, 
and looked down in her moist eyes. 

"Forgive you? I could not do otherwise. I know to 
whom report gives Agnes, and from whom it originated — 
13 K 



146 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Peter Simpkins. Did you really credit the assertion, 
Edalia?" 

"Yes." 

" Then let me say to you, Edie, that I have never desired 
to be more than & friend to Agnes. Why how you tremble, 
little girl ! And there 's a sparkling pearl peeping out from 
its silken covert — and another ! My dear Edie !" 

"Walter Eldon strained her to his bosom, and kissed her 
lips and forehead with more passion than he had ever dis- 
played before. 

Then he seated her on the sofa, and addressed her with 
brotherly seeming and confidence. 

" No, Edalia, I have never loved Agnes ; and even if it 
were not so — " 

His lips compressed firmly — he rose and traversed the 
apartment. 

" I should not marry for years to come. There are 
obligations to be repaid, before incurring a new responsi- 
bility." 

His face grew white, and his form proudly erect. He 
resumed his seat beside her, and looked long and mourn- 
fully upon her face. 

" Ah, Edie, before I can shake off the galling chains of 
dependence, you will be the bride of some favored one of 
fortune ! " 

" No, I shall not, Walter." 

His countenance lighted up — his bosom swelled. He 
moved impulsively towards her, with words visible in his 
luminous, heavenly blue eyes, but subjecting his nervous 
faculties to the domination of a powerful will, he restrained 
his impulsiveness and conversed calmly and with fraternal 
seeming. 

Walter had made his debut as a lawyer in Bertha's native 
town, and had triumphed. 



THE BEAUTY. 147 

Edalia now bethought her to inquire: 

" Where is uncle ? " 

"He remained in town. Bertha is coming home with 
him to-morrow — her husband is gone." 

Edalia sprang up and danced at the glad news of 
Bertha's coming, till the laughing young man caught her 
up in his arms, and carried her off in triumph to the supper- 
room as the bell sounded the call. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

BERTHA RETROSPECTS THE PAST. 

AMI?" 
Bertha uttered the words softly as she sat alone in her 
chamber, looking off at the pale golden stars spangling the 
broad blue of a slumberous June night — looking away out 
through the violet depths, yet seeing nothing but the dark 
lines drawn along the soiled leaf of her inner life. 

"Ami?" 

And the small mouth shut more firmly, and the small 
white hand wandered restlessly through the short, shining, 
brown curls that fluttered over her lily-white forehead, and 
the shadow of a thought was in the brown depths of her 
introverted eyes. 

And what was Bertha thinking about? And what did 
the poor tired heart, beating time to the death-dirge of its 
ruined hopes, answer to the mysterious words : 

"Am I?" 

The poor tired heart gave a fuller throb, and sank away 
down under slow, soft pulses, and answered not a word — it 



148 BERTIIA, THE BEAUTY. 

was afraid to utter what it felt, lest it should condemn itself. 
But "God, who is greater than the heart, and knoweth all 
things," heard the deep thoughts under those slow, soft 
pulses, and the spirit rapped out on the table of feeling the 
mystic monosyllable : 

"No!" 

And Bertha's brown eyes smiled very faintly as they 
looked off into the blue vista, thickly sown with stars, and 
mellow with moonlight ; and the heart under those short, 
brown curls pulsed on with an evener beat as thought rolled 
up in dark waves from the shadowy past, and ran in little 
silvery rills off through the slumberous eve and the mellow 
moonlight into the veiled future, and the poor tired heart 
asked, as it dreamed on and on all alone in the purpled 
eve-light : 

"When will it end?" 

Only one year of married life had gone, and Bertha won- 
dered if the clouds and storms of that one, that had bruised 
and blighted her young life, would not suffice for the years 
that God's omnipotent hand might hold to fold around her 
future fate. 

Horace Stanhope was gone, and the quiet that fell around 
her life was sweet to the heart that had so long struggled in 
the wild waves of discord and uncongeniality. 

Day after day, his atheistic and tyrannical soul had crept 
from the deceptive covering that concealed it, until it stood 
forth in all its deformity and hideousness; and the little 
tendrils of wifely feeling that might have been nurtured by 
tender forbearance and manly worth into strong, vigorous 
vines of affection, trailing around his life and embowering it 
with cooling shade and sweet blossoms, fell away seared and 
blasted by the rude shock of his dishonorable and cruelly 
exacting nature. 

Horace Stanhope was an atheist, and Bertha grew cold, 



149 



with 8udd«D surprise and dread, as she drew forth the vil- 
lanous works of Hume and Voltaire from their concealment 
among his effects, and made the shuddering discovery of 
her husband's masked principles. She consigned the in- 
iquitous volumes to the flames, and reduced them to ashes 
without his knowledge. She did not wait to consider the 
consequences — Horace Stanhope never saw the wicked 
works again. He smiled when the deed was voluntarily 
acknowledged, and essayed to defend his faith. Bertha 
stood aghast at the sophistry employed to extenuate his 
great guilt. She was not " under grace " herself, but she 
had been taught from babyhood to say, " Our Father ; " 
and her belief in a God was as strong and clear as the un- 
clouded midsummer sun at noonday. She could not argue 
with him from experience, but she laid the Bible between 
them to decide the all-important question, and heard it 
sneeringly pronounced "a cunningly devised fable !" — an 
infidel's invariable resort. 

Bertha never reasoned with him again on the subject, and 
Horace Stanhope made no effort and manifested no desire 
to proselyte his believing wife to his own unbelief. But he 
threw obstacles in the way of her church-going, until Bertha 
surmounted them with the strength of an unconquerable 
will, and successfully resisted his authority to shut her out 
from God's holy sanctuary. Her disobedience furnished 
him with a weapon with which to fight her own faith, and 
he bravely stabbed the religion that taught wives to defy 
their own husbands ! 

" ' We should obey God, rather than man ' " — was 
Bertha's parry to the vindictive thrust. 

Horace Stanhope was kind and tender during his wife's 
long illness, and Mr. Belmont trusted to his great love to 
reform his nature and correct his evil tendencies. The son- 
in-law deferred openly to the old man's judgment and 
13 * 



150 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

advice, but secretly he chafed under the restraint that pru- 
dence laid upon necessity. 

He was more than penniless, and Bertha's father estab- 
lished him in a flourishing mercantile business. His affable 
manners and handsome face rendered him popular, and 
prosperity perched upon his banner. The world called him 
a "lucky dog," and made merry over the " Yankee trick" 
he had played upon his credulous father-in-law. 

But with Bertha's recovery, and appearance in society, 
the old unrest returned, and affairs grew darker daily, until 
they culminated in open rupture. 

Mr. Belmont found, upon investigation, that Horace Stan- 
hope's business prosperity, in which he was interested, was 
only upon the surface. The funds he had furnished to 
found the establishment were all expended or unaccount- 
ably invisible, and no profits forthcoming to replenish the 
stock ! Horace Stanhope could not render a satisfactory 
account of the missing funds and lack of surplus, and the 
long forbearing, but now fully aroused father, turned the 
key in the store-door, and indignantly ordered the treacher- 
ous and worthless son-in-law from his premises. Mr. Bel- 
mont said, wrathfully : 

" There is a point beyond which forbearance ceases to be 
a virtue ! " 

Horace Stanhope went up to Bertha's chamber, laid his 
wicked head upon her bosom, and wept tears of hate, and 
yearning for revenge — plaintively attributing them to an 
overwhelming sense of innocence, outraged by her unjust 
and unfeeling father ! 

Tears from her husband was no unusual sight to Bertha, 
and they failed to produce the desired effect. She had seen 
them fall from his large, soft, beautiful eyes on every occa- 
sion that policy found it expedient to awaken sympathy, 
until she had become disgusted at the unmanly resort. The 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 15i 

rain-drops that fell from Horace Stanhope's blue eyes had 
long won, in Bertha's home, the unenviable designation of 
" crocodile tears." 

Bertha blushed with shame at the sound that reflected 
such discredit upon one in whom her own individuality was 
lost ; but she knew the application was just, and she shrank 
farther within herself and from him. 

Horace Stanhope saw the breach widening between them, 
and he grew more tyrannical and secretly violent. Bertha 
learned to fear him, not that he was brave and daring, — 
she knew he was the reverse of valiant, — but she distrusted 
the sting of the snake in the grass, in his hours of jealous 
rage, until her spirit rose one day, after her long confine- 
ment, when he sought to restrict her liberties to the narrow 
limits of his own jealous and arbitrary will, by incarcerating 
her from the world. 

Horace Stanhope cowered before the spark of spirit-light 
struck out by the flint and steel of constant oppression and 
perpetual strife, — and Bertha knew her husband was a 
dastard as well as tyrant. 

Bertha Belmont had said truly, when she wrote Edalia 
from La Violet Seminary : 

" I despise meanness. The very sight of a mean mortal 
nauseates me." And the daily view of a mean spirit, bear- 
ing so close a relationship to her, was wearing her powers 
of self-control and her very life away. 

But Bertha was as easily led by love as she was repelled 
by unkindness ; and her husband's returning tenderness and 
words of penitence covered, for a time, the multitude of sins 
that conduced to continually recurring clouds and storms in 
their domestic horizon. 

And now that his chief aid in obtaining her hand had 
deserted and cast him off for his baseness, Horace Stanhope 
exerted his softest arts and sunniest wiles to win her from 
her home. 



152 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. • 

" It would be a blow to the old man, and his revenge ! " 
he said, mentally ; but Bertha heard the thought expressed, 
by his torturing lips, when it was too late to retrieve her 
loss ! 

" You promised never to take me from my home," she 
said, in answer to his pleadings. 

" Without your consent, my wife." 

" And with my consent you will not take me now, Mr. 
Stanhope. You have no means to provide for yourself, 
setting aside my expenses. It would be the part of pru- 
dence for me to remain, even if my inclination seconded your 
wish." 

" You don't wish to go with your husband, Bertha ? — 
driven out by those with whom you will remain ! Dear, 
will you suffer me to leave you forever? I shall never 
return to this State when I am once out of it, Bertha." 

"And I shall never leave this State, Mr. Stanhope, while 
my parents and brother are in it, without a great change 
that I fear will never come." 

" What change, Bertha ? " 

" Recall the past of our married life, Mr. Stanhope, and 
ask yourself if it seem wise an4 desirable that I should 
abandon a quiet home and tender friends and go out into 
the wide world, a homeless stranger, with one who has not 
made my happiness in the past ! " 

" Dear, you will have no cause to complain, when you 
leave all and rely upon me. You have never been wholly 
mine yet, Bertha ; you have been divided among many, and 
your love for and dependence upon others have occasioned 
the discord in the harmony of our wedded life." 

Bertha's lips shut tightly. She would not reproach him 
for his unfaithfulness to her father, and enumerate his many 
acts of cruelty and violence to herself; but to resign all for 
him, to follow his fortunes in a strange land, with the sick- 



BEKTIIA, THE BEAUTY. 153 

ening odor of Hume and Voltaire exhaling from his spirit, 
was not in her thoughts. 

"Will you go with your husband, my dear wife?" 

All the softness and sweetness that Horace Stanhope 
could command were poured into those words, and it was 
pleasant to Bertha. He was on his knees, with his hand- 
some head upon her shoulder and his arms around her 
waist. She was forgetting the past, and thinking perhaps 
it was her duty, and the future would reward her for the 
effort to perform it. He saw his advantage and followed it 
up with honeyed words. Hume and Voltaire were shut out 
from her vision by his enticing smiles. 

" How can you obtain funds sufficient to take me ? " 

She looked down in his eyes. There was a steely flash 
and cold glitter of triumph that chilled her like ice. 

" My brother in New York will furnish the needful," he 
said, exultingly. 

" And how will you repay him ? " 

" I can obtain a situation in the city, no doubt." 

"And if not?" 

"There are no 'ifs' about it, Bertha; there are always 
openings there for one like me, who understands the sales- 
man's business." 

That resolved her back into herself. He understood the 
business so well that it had driven him from her father's 
house! She saw Hume and Voltaire again, and was no 
longer charmed by the charmer. 

" Then go and obtain the situation, Mr. Stanhope. Repay 
all your pecuniary obligations ; place yourself in a situation 
not to be embarrassed by my additional expenses ; and if 
pa then refuse to receive you here as a son-in-law, I will join 
you in New York." 

Horace Stanhope grew white with disappointment and 
wrath. He loved his beautiful young wife as well as he was 



154 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

capable of loving anything beside his sensual self; and the 
idea of leaving her among her old admirers for so long a 
period of probation, with no l} T nx-eye to follow her day in 
and day out, wrought him to fury. He did not consider it 
was his own misconduct that had driven him out ; — he 
thought only of the necessity that was upon him. He 
learned to value her more, now that his sins had separated 
between him and his heart — for Horace Stanhope had a 
heart, though it was so grown over with the thorns of 
iniquity that the sharp points pierced its core, and tortured 
all that came in contact with it. 

" Is that your determination, Bertha ? " 

She saw the premonitory symptoms of a violent eruption, 
in his whitening lips and swelling bosom, and tried to nerve 
herself for the burning lava of irrepressible passion. 

" Mr. Stanhope, I cannot go with you now. You are not 
in a situation to manfully meet the liabilities that will be 
incurred by my compliance with your request. I should 
only be a burden." 

" Dear, with you I shall be strong to labor and wait ; 
without you, it will be impossible to succeed. I shall die 
without you, Bertha ! " 

She had heard such assertions before, and knew how 
much they were worth when they had accomplished his 
object ; but they did not fail to affect her sensibility almost 
to tears, under the circumstances. 

" Mr. Stanhope, try it and see." 

" Is that your final answer, Bertha ? " 

" It is ; but let us part peaceably, Horace. For your own 
sake you must go without me now. I am — " 

" Yes, for my sake ! for my sake ! Good Lord, how con- 
siderate and loving she is ! Go alone, because she loves me 
so ! Try it and see ! Yes, try it and die, and leave her 
free to Harry Herbert ! — church-member Harry Herbert ! 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 155 

saintly Herbert! and the rest of the infernal scoundrels 
that she cares a damned sight more for than she does her 
husband ! Oh, what a precious, immaculate, devoted wife 
6 he is ! " — he sneered and hissed, as he walked the room in 
a white heat. 

Bertha's face was white as his own, now. The taunt and 
sneer, and imputation cast upon her honor, in his wild 
frenzy, struck fire from the flint, and set her Southern spirit 
in a blaze of indignation. 

" I never said I loved you, Mr. Stanhope," she answered, 
coolly. 

He turned upon her fiercely, as the chilling words fell 
from her scornful lips. 

" Then you don't love me, madam ! You glory in your 
shame ! You uttered a living lie at the bridal altar, and 
boast of it now ! " 

"I never said I loved you, Mr. Stanhope. You knew all 
before you made me your wife. I gave you timely warning 
and tried to avert this wretched fate, but you would not re- 
lease me. I am not responsible for the unhappiness that has 
followed that fatal nineteenth of June. I could not control 
my destiny, and successfully strive against my fate — I was 
a child in stronger hands. It is folly to reproach me for 
what I vainly tried to avert. It is worse than folly to affect 
ignorance now, of what you knew from the beginning. I 
respected you when we were married, and I should have 
learned to love you, doubtless, had you watered the germ 
of affection with the cool dew of gentleness and nursing 
care, and not frozen it in its earth-bed with jealous tyranny, 
before the tender buds had put forth in the warm spring 
sunshine. You might have won me to love you once, but I 
do not even respect you now ! " 

Horace Stanhope's fury cooled off, as her burning eyes ate 
down into his passionate soul. He saw the game was up, 



156 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

and he had "lost a day" without a lucky cut of his fortune 
cards. He went back to her side, and wet her shoulder 
with apparently penitential tears. 

" Oh, Bertha, my wife, unsay those cruel words ! It kills 
me to part with you, and you add to my misery by words 
of scorn ! " 

"A worm will turn if trodden upon, Mr. Stanhope. I 
said, let us part in peace, and you impelled me to self-justi- 
fication by sneers and insulting insinuations. I am no 
angel, and you should not expect from me the unparalleled 
patience of a Job. I have earnestly tried to perform my 
duty as your wife, and I think you cannot cite one instance 
of disobedience, except in obeying Him to whom I owe my 
first allegiance. I am no Christian in experience, and have 
not the forbearance of a saint. I regret that you have 
driven me to this extremity ; let us forgive and forget the 
past, and mutually try to cultivate a better spirit in the 
future." 

"You will not forget me, Bertha, when I am so far 
away ? " 

" I shall never forget you, Horace," was all she said. 

And so they parted — with mutual tears and pardons; he, 
crushed down by the necessity of leaving her — a necessity 
brought about by his own wickedness — and yearning for 
vengeance upon his justly incensed father-in-law. 

And Bertha sat alone in the dewy eve-light, and asked 
her heart if it was sad because Horace Stanhope was far 
away, and the sound of his footsteps was no longer heard in 
her quiet home, and his words of love and jealousy, and 
wild passion, no longer soothed and irritated and tormented 
her. But the tired heart sank down half reprovingly, and 
did not answer, audibly, the low query : 

"Ami?" 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 157 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
bertha's friends and foes. 

MISS WATRUFF was married, and gone from "the Aca- 
demy " at the " Grove." Miss Watruff had " caught " 
a handsome young Southron, with her black eyes and 
musical talent, and her Northern principles did not scruple 
to marry a dozen negroes and a good round share of pro- 
fanity. 

Windsor Burleigh w r as handsome and rich, but not 
aristocratic. His beauty compensated for a deficiency in 
mental acquirements, and his wealth covered all constitu- 
tional sins and hereditary transmissions from Miss Wat- 
ruff's wide-awake eye. 

What a world of inconsistencies there is on the outside 
of this beautiful but snake-bitten earth ! 

Go North, and you hear little else but slavery denounced 
and slaveholders anathematized. 

Go South, and you see wandering, money-hunting Yan- 
kees marrying the " institution " as rapidly as they can 
wheedle silly girls and sillier women into the absurdity of 
saying "Yes!" 

Miss Watruff met her match in the matrimonial state, 
and was richly repaid for her injustice and unfeeling de- 
portment towards little Bertha in years gone by. The 
" measure she meted " to her unoffending young pupil was 
" measured to her again." 

Windsor Burleigh and "Bertha the Beauty" were school- 
mates and "sweethearts" in childhood days; and our hero- 
ine knew, when she heard of his marriage, he would not 
be crushed by coldness, and hurt by insults, from his fair 
14 



158 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

bride, as she had been, by her servile teacher, in other 
years. 

Windsor walked rough-shod over small things, and beat 
down large ones with powerful oaths and tobacco-quids, that 
made even stubborn hearts quail. Bertha liked the youth, 
but feared his strong language ; and his manhood's soul was 
as strong as his school-day words. Windsor's wife died be- 
fore she broke her husband's heart. 

Dora Wilmer was now a "finished young lady," with 
many lovers of her father's fortune fluttering around his 
delicate daughter. Dora was not handsome in the slightest 
degree, saving her long, black, silky eye-lashes, that lent a 
peculiar interest to her pale blue eyes. She was dainty in 
person, and tricked out in all the glittering paraphernalia 
that country wealth could £>rocure. 

Dora was really a good girl at heart; apart from her 
mother's influence, she was an amiable, lovable woman. 
She was destitute of vanity, and cared no more for men and 
manners than a child in pantalets and short frock. 

If a lord of creation in broadcloth and shining boots, 
with Chesterfield grace and dignity, careful to please the 
" young heiress," urged her to favor him with music against 
her inclination, Dora would " swear she would n't ! " and 
her singular style of expression was set down by her host of 
admirers to "privilege " and "peculiarity." 

There was a handsome carriage standing at the yard-gate 
of the " Grove." Ellen Wilmer was the occupant, and her 
little boy and a black nurse. Mrs. Ellen Wilmer had just 
arrived from Williamsville, and stopped a while at her 
uncle's gate on her way to the " old place." She evidently 
had news. Colonel Wilmer, wife, and daughter, were stand- 
ing near the carriage. Mrs. Ellen Wilmer was speaking 
fast, with pleased eyes. 

" Bertha Belmont's husband has run away and left her." 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 159 

" I thought so. I knew nobody could live with her in 
peace ! " and Mrs. Colonel Wilmer clasped her bony hands 
and looked strangely unsympathizing. 

"Oh, la!" ejaculated Dora, stretching her pale eyes, 
soberly. 

" Damn him ! " muttered the Colonel, looking daggers at 
his smiling wife. 

Mrs. Ellen went on, glibly : 

" He 's stole all old Belmont's money, and broke him up 
root and branch, and run off from his wife, who is breaking 
her heart about him, and the disgrace of the whole affair. 
They say they 've lived like cat and dog ever since their 
marriage. Old Belmont let it all out after Stanhope stole 
his money and put out for Yankee-land." 

"I wonder he did n't kick him out, neck and heels, before 
he ran off," snarled the Colonel. "The Lord knows I 
never liked the looks of the fellow ; handsome he was, to 
be sure, but there was a sneaking, snaky look about the 
rascal that I never liked; and they say Bertha married 
him against her will ; her father fancied him — I 've heard 
so." 

"Fudge!" sneered Mrs. Colonel Wilmer, "don't you 
believe it ! She never would have done better ! I pity the 
man if he is a Yankee ! I know her — the poor and proud 
impudent fire-eater ! " 

" Now, Helen ! " warned her liege, " don't say ' fire,' when 
you've got enough of it yourself, and some to spare. 
Bertha was a wonderfully smart girl, with just spirit enough 
to defend herself and her rights. I never liked poor people 
who would lie down in the dirt, and let rich ones walk over 
'em. ' Bertha the Beauty ' won't do that, you may bet ! The 
fellow 's a scoundrel, and the poor girl deserves a better fate. 
I 've heard sly rumors about his dishonesty and jealousy 
of his wife's beauty. I s'pose they tried to keep it in and 



1G0 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

hide his meanness. I 'd like to twist the rope that would 
hang him, by ! " 

Colonel Wilmer was not a profane man habitually, and 
it was only on occasions of unusual excitement that the for- 
bidden words slipped out. 

" Poor Bert ! I 'm re-al sorry for her ! " and Dora's face 
testified to her truthfulness despite her mother's angry eyes. 

"That's right, my girl, always talk up for the right." 

Colonel Wilmer's great clumsy arms gave Dora a good 
hug for her honesty, and his good-natured mouth met hers 
with a " buss " that might have been heard at a consider- 
able distance. 

Mrs. Ellen Wilmer's carriage rolled away from the Grove, 
and Dora ordered the ponies out for a horseback ride. Dora 
was overflowing with the great news, and must pour it out 
to Edalia and Minnie, before her blue eyes could rest in 
slumber. 

She had outgrown her childish envies and jealousies, and 
forgiven the snaps and snarls of juvenility. Her father's 
disposition was more perceptible in the young lady than it 
had been in the little girl. Dora sprang upon the pony's 
back, and throwing a kiss from her fingers to her fat and 
lazy father, who was stretched upon the porch settee, with a 
little negro kneeling at his head, cracking hairs, she galloped 
away from the Grove and up the broad, white road, with 
black Harry on the match pony, following hard behind his 
young mistress. 

Minnie was sitting with Edalia, when Dora burst in 
without the slightest ceremony, in her "peculiar" and 
" privileged " way. 

" Oh, Ed — Min, that rascal Stanhope from Yankeedom 
has run away and left Bert, and stole all her father's money 
to boot ! " 

"I don't believe it," said Edalia. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 161 

" That 's Yankee - like ! " exclaimed Minnie. " Poor 
Bert!" 

" Yes, poor Bert ! — /say, poor Bert ! She looked like a 
ghost when I saw her last spring, and I heard some whisper 
of the Yankee's jealous tyranny ; but I set it down to ser- 
vants' slanders. I see now what made her so thin and pale 
— poor thing! " 

Dora's eyes looked suspiciously lustrous. 

"Maybe it is n't true," suggested incredulous Edalia. 

"No guess-work about it. Cousin Ellen has just come 
from town and brought the sorry news. I 'm glad he 's 
gone, I declare, if he had n't stole Bert's money, and broke 
her heart ! Cousin El says she 's dying about him, and the 
disgrace he 's brought upon her — poor Bert ! " 

"Don't be distressed about that," said Edalia, mysteri- 
ously. " I reckon Bertha's health will improve speedily ; 
and as to the ' disgrace/ I predict it will follow him, and 
not tarry w T ith her. But did he really run off? " 

"Yes; Cousin El says he 's broke Mr. Belmont root and 
branch, and run away with the money. And you know 
that will injure Bert's reputation, if her husband has run 
away from her — poor Bert ! " 

" I doubt it. There are two sides to this affair, and we 
have only seen one. Wait a little till the whole story is 
out. I '11 write to Bertha to-night." 

But Edalia did not have to wait long for the whole story. 

Mr. Tomlin was in her uncle's office, communicating the 
whole truth to Mr. Kedmond and Walter. He had just 
returned from Williamsville. They entered the apartment, 
where the three friends sat discussing the same subject. 

Mr. Redmond broke forth, jubilantly : 

" I say, Ed, Yankee Belmont has kicked Yankee Stan- 
hope out o' doors, and he 's clean gone, forever ! Hang 'im, 
let 'im go ! " 

14* L 



162 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" I said so ! " cried Edalia. 

11 And a good riddance for her ! " exclaimed Minnie. 

" Cousin Ellen said he stole all Mr. Belmont's money and 
ran away from Bert ! " said Dora, in amazement. 

" Cousin Ellen has got hold of the tail instead of the 
head," said Mr. Tomlin, roughly. " Instead of running 
away from his wife, he tried hard to get her to follow him ! 
But ' Bertha the Beauty ' had cut her eye-teeth, and would n't 
budge an inch for his tears and prayers." 

" I thought so," reiterated Edalia, significantly. 

" Good for Bert! " ejaculated Minnie, with a sad smile on 
her sickly-looking face. 

" Well, I 'm re-al glad Cousin El got the wrong story," 
said Dora. 

" Some folks always take snap judgment," growled Mr. 
Tomlin. " I got my story from Mr. Belmont, and no mis- 
take. The easy old man has got his eyes open at last, and 
his dander is up — no two ways about that! " 

" Then he did n't steal her money?" inquired Miss Dora. 

" Not exactly as you put it, but it amounts to the same 
thing when you whittle it to a point. The goods are gone ; 
debts to pay in New York, and no proceeds from the sale 
of ' value received ' to pay 'em with. If that ain't twin 
sister to theft, I should call it first cousin on both sides. 
Belmont had to pay for the clothes he married his daughter 
in — the sneaking, mean-spirited Yankee rascal ! He was 
jealous as a Turk, just because his wife was so beautiful and 
universally admired, and tried to shut her up from all the 
world, even from church. But Bert showed her grit there, 
and he could n't come that game. She was always a re- 
markably modest and religious little thing, and would n't 
give in to bein' left in the lurch there — you may bet! I 
hope she flattened his Yankee nose for it! He kept the 
whole family in a stew, everlastingly, and handled that poor 



THE BEAUTY. 163 

child pretty roughly, in his jealous rage; then he'd snub 
like a booby, and beg her pardon on his knees. Now he 's 
been kicked out of the house, and left her father his debts 
to pay ; and no one knows what has gone with the money, 
for the rascal did a flourishing business. I wonder they 
stood it with him as long as they did. L should a come 
down on 'im, long ago, like a fence-rail on a green snake! " 

"I shouldn't think Bertha Belmont would love such a 
biped as that!" said Edalia, nodding her curly head signifi- 
cantly at Dora. 

"Love him! Creation ! Belmont coaxed her into marry- 
ing him, in the first place, — and now he 's got paid for his 
sin. I did n't git that from him, though, you may bet high! 
It was all over town before her marriage, they say, but kept 
dark ; and now that Belmont has let the cat out, nobody 
scruples to revive the old story and censure him. Nobody 
can tell where the tale sprung, but niggers have keen eyes 
and big ears. Love him, indeed ! 'Bertha the Beauty' ain't 
cut after that pattern ! I saw her this morning, pretty and 
timid as ever, but careworn. She longs for the old days and 
early friends. Her brown eyes filled brimful of tears when 
she spoke of the low brown house with the long piazza." 

" Poor thing ! " said Edalia, shutting her mouth very 
tight. 

" Poor Bert ! " echoed Minnie, wiping the tears from her 
faded eyes. 

" I wish he 'd lost his breath before he ever came South ! " 
snapped out Dora, growing very white. 

" A bad penny 's pretty apt to come back again, and I 
hope Bertha won't think it her bounden duty to stick the 
closer to a bad bargain, if the rascal turns up again. If she 
does she '11 do it, you may bet your pile on that! " growled 
Mr. Tomlin, as he strode out of the house and away. 



164 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY, 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

edalia surprises mr. redmond. — night-scene at 
" jones's store." 

AND so Agues has returned ? " said Mr. Eedmond, as he 
lolled back iu his easy-chair before a blaziug winter 
fire, with feet elevated to an astonishiug height upon the 
mantel. " Only went to play bridesmaid for a cousin, eh ? 
and disappoint the wiseacres hereabouts. Wonder what 
the busybodies '11 scare up next, Wall, my boy ? But, by 
Jupiter, I thought so, too ! and p'rhaps 't ain't too late yet?'* 

He looked askance at the young man. Walter colored. 

" I shall never marry Agnes, sir." 

"Eh?" 

The old gentleman's eyes snapped, and his heels slid down 
the mantel right nimbly, and brought up on the fender with 
a ring. 

" Eh ? well, by Jupiter ! I thought it was a fixed fact, 
and so schooled myself accordingly. Did n't you, Ed ? " 

" No, sir." 

" You did n't ! Then what did you think, you gipsy, eh?" 

" That I received my information from a reliable source, 
uncle." 

" Oh, ho ! So Agnes let the cat out, and bound you over 
to keep mum ? " 

" No, sir. Agnes never alluded to the subject." 

" Hallo ! — what the deuce ! " 

He looked from Walter to her, and from her to Walter. 

" Well, I 'm an old man, but I '11 be hanged if I can read 
yet! " and Mr. Redmond made a hasty exit, with a juvenile 
step and roguish smile. 

Edalia bent over her sewing industriously, and there was 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 165 

a long pause. When she looked up she met the young 
man's deep, earnest eyes riveted half mournfully upon her 
free. He started slightly, smiled, and drew out his watch. 

"Seven, Edalia; it is time, if you would call for Agnes." 

Di's nimble fingers speedily performed their accustomed 
office, and they started for the old school-house. 

"Are you cold, Edalia?" queried Walter, as they ap- 
proached the establishment of Tomlin memory ; wrapping 
her furs around her till she gasped for breath, and peeping 
cunningly under at her half-buried visage. 

" No; but I shall be if you go on at this rate ! I '11 thank 
you for a little more air. I hope Mr. Tomlin will be there, 
Walter." | 

"So do I, indeed." 

"Tomlin — Tomlin," repeated Mr. Redmond, who was 
growing a little deaf, and, consequently, a little more in- 
quisitive than formerly, — " what of Tomlin, young ones ? 
A noble fellow, in the main, but has a termagant wife, I 'm 
told, and flies to the bottle for refuge." 

" A roofless refuge," returned Walter, with a sigh. 

" So it is, boy — so it is ; the frying-pan and the fire ; but 
thousands of poor wretches have taken the leap, impelled 
by domestic discord ; and Tomlin, though possessing the 
elements of — by faith, there 's Charles ! " 

They stopped mechanically ; and among the crowd gath- 
ered beneath the low roof of " Jones's Store," they discerned 
Chester, — his face flushed with excitement evidently, — Mr. 
Tomlin, Colonel Henley, and Peter Simpkins. 

" Edalia, I must resign you to uncle. Charles must not 
remain here." 

"Oh, don't enter that den, Walter, — remember 'poor 
Tray ! ' " 

He looked down with his beaming blue eyes brimming 
with soft and silent eloquence. 



166 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"And remember Daniel, Edie. I must exercise my 
powers of persuasion. Go with uncle, little trembler, and 
believe me not too brave to fly from danger." 

He resigned her to Mr. Redmond, with a lingering pres- 
sure of the hand that lay upon his arm, and sprang up the 
steps, with a happy smile upon his handsome face. 

A shout went up from the bacchanal crew within, as the 
door closed upon his tall, manly form. 

" By Jupiter, here 's a pretty stew ! " ejaculated Mr. 
Redmond. 

" Why, how you tremble ! Are you cold, Ed?" 

"Not a bit, sir. But I don't like this business, uncle. 
Walter will stir up this whole nest of vipers by his cold- 
water presence, and I fear for the consequences." 

" That 's a fact, girl. Come round this corner from the 
keen air, Ed, and let 's watch the signs of the times through 
this loophole of a window. It 's a blasted mean trick this 
eavesdropping ; but I '11 be hanged by the ears if I 'm 
going to leave the boy in this fix ! I 'm bound to see fair 
play, if the odds are against us. There's Henley — his 
animosity is burning for vengeance, and he'll scruple at 
nothing to accomplish his object, and involve him in an 
'affair of honor.' ' H-o-n-o-r /' If he does succeed, by the 
beard of Joe Smith, I '11 — " He doubled up his fist, and 
looked at it pugnaciously. 

During this effervescence of the old gentleman's indigna- 
tion and solicitude, Edalia was watching anxiously the 
gyrations of the motley crew within. She descried Walter 
at the farther end of the room in low but earnest conversa- 
tion with Charles, whose varying countenance betrayed his 
mental excitement. 

" Gen'lenien," said the intoxicated and reeling Peter, 
" walk up 'n lay this unction t' y'r inner man. I '11 stan' 
treat. Dum viv' mus vi'amus, gen'lenien, 'n go to glory w'en 
we shuf-fle off (hie ! ) this mor-mor-tal coil (hie ! )" 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 167 

Mr. Tomlin turned off a surprising quantity of gold- 
colored liquid in answer to this invitation, smacked his lips 
with a relish over the empty tumbler, and made a snake- 
truck in the direction of Charles and Walter. He brought 
one hand down heavily upon Charles 's shoulder, and stam- 
mered out : 

" Go 'long, man, 'n no sneakin' ! Wall 's right, 'n no 
mistake ; for I tell you, fellers, there 's death in the pot, 'n 
no 'Lisha to tend it ! " 

Walter addressed him in a low, indistinct tone. He 
wrung the young man's proffered hand, and responded : 

" Can't do it, boy, — can't do it ! I '11 own I ought to ; 
but you see the devil got into my pea-patch, an' pulled up 
all the vines, 'fore the resolutions ripened — raised a rum- 
pus gin'rally, an' I jest let go the ropes, an' — an' 'm goin' 
down the hill to hell in desp'ration! Can't do it, boy, — 
God bless ye though, I know you 're right ! " 

" Oh, yes ! " cried the insulting Henley. " Go it, Tom ! 
turn the grindstone for the able disciple of Coke ! " 

Mr. Redmond's fingers shut around Edalia's arm like a 
vice at this taunt. The blood ran icy through her veins, 
and she held her breath to catch his reply. 

Walter's face was livid, but not a muscle moved as he 
turned coolly, and bowed to the Colonel, with a slight curl 
of his chiselled lip. 

Henley chafed. 

"Bravo, my boy!" whispered Mr. Redmond, rubbing 
his hands with delight. "Treat him with silent contempt. 
1 A wise man prevaileth in power, for he screeneth his bat- 
tering-engine ; but a fool tilteth headlong, and his enemy 
is aware.'" 

A ragged inebriate, in the highest state of spirit-ual feli- 
city, squared himself in the middle of the aisle, and com- 
menced a circular movement, catching at the bystanders to 



168 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

preserve a perpendicular posture, when the law of gravita- 
tion became too powerful for his weak head to resist, and 
he sang, jubilantly : 

" Old Father Matthew an' I, 
'Ow merry were we, 

Wen we sot un'er the June apple t'ee — 
Ei'o! 

Put 'is 'at on 'is 'ead, 
Keep 'is 'ead warm, 

An' take 'nother d'ink '11 do 'im no 'arm — 
Ei— (hie!)" g 

He staggered up to the counter, and acted upon the sugges- 
tion, — emptied a brimming glass that descended from his 
nerveless hand with a concussion that shivered it to atoms. 

The dealer in sundries anathematized the whole race of 
bipeds, collectively, at this casualty ; whereupon the oifender 
struck a pugilistic attitude, but lost his equilibrium, and 
disappeared behind the counter, to the terror of numerous 
toes that retaliated for their excruciating agonies by well- 
directed and hearty kicks at the prostrated flounderer. 

" Gen'lemen," said Peter, "I'm single man, gen'lemen, 
or you would n't see me 'n this disrep'table condition. I 
know I 'm drunk, feller-cit'zens, but I 've no wife (hie ! ) 
to mourn over my d'plo'able condition 'n 'nfatuation, like 
Ches'er yon'er (hie ! ) I 'm free 'n easy bach'lor, gen'lemen, 
'n the 'njoymen' of all the 'munities of that f 'lic'tous state, 
ad lib' turn. Walk up, cum dign'iate, gen'lemen, 'n drink to 
the d'liv'rance of all beauteous brides from a drunken in- 
cubus (hie! ) I'll be 'sponsible, gen'lemen." 

Edalia glanced at Charles. His countenance changed 
rapidly — alternate red and white. Walter grasped his 
arm, and they moved toward the door. Mr. Tomlin tot- 
tered after, sputtering words of encouragement to Charles; 
and Henley sneered. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 1G9 

Mr. Tomlin saw them safely shut out, but resisting Wal- 
ler's importunities to accompany them, he returned to the 
counter. 

" I say, Clutchem, it 's all-fired cold out. Give us 'nother 
neck-warmer. I 'ra goin' to take one good leg-stretcher, an' 
then strike a bee-line for purgatory ! " 

" Poor Tomlin ! " said Mr. Redmond, as they turned away 
from " Jones's Store." 



CHAPTER XXX. 

ALONZO STANHOPE'S VISIT TO BERKSHIRE. 

rpHE "farm," behind the dilapidated frame house, in 
J- Berkshire, Massachusetts, was seamed with yellow 
ridges ; and the evening air was redolent with the odor of 
new hay. 

The cows were chewing their cud in the yard, exhaling 
the scent of fresh milk, and the pig was munching and 
grunting in its savory pen. 

Martha Stanhope, flushed and weary-looking, was prepar- 
ing the evening meal of pork and pickles, cakes and pies — 
and tea ; and Silas washing his big feet and brown hands 
at the "sink," after his day's labor of haying and milking 
was done; when the sound of wheels, drawing up at the 
gate, provoked him to desist from the process of ablution, 
and listen. 

Silas " peeked " through the window, and started up very 
suddenly, exclaiming with animation : 

" Wall, ef there ain't 'Lonzo, come up from New Yorick, 
I .swan ! " 
15 



170 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

He stepped on the towel, and with sundry scrapes and 
wriggles, to absorb the wet and avoid tracking the floor, he 
hurried from the kitchen out to the gate, with one clean foot 
and one dirty, hair standing on end, and suspenders flapping 
behind him. 

Alonzo Stanhope, another brother of Horace, was a small, 
delicate man, with an air of city refinement about him. His 
hands and feet were small ; his dress & la mode; and his 
language pruned of all Yankee provincialisms. His pale 
chestnut hair was slightly dusted with years ; his light-blue 
eyes had an open, frank expression, and a perpetual smile 
sat upon the ingenuous, manly face. His toute ensemble was 
that of a man that could be trusted. 

Alonzo was a land-broker on Nassau Street, New York, 
and doing a prosperous business. There was a striking, 
painful contrast between the city gentleman and the country 
clown, whose big, hard hand he was shaking so cordially. 
Not the slightest resemblance existed between the two 
indicative of fraternity, except in stature and the color of 
their eyes. 

Silas conducted his unexpected visitor into the "keepin'- 
room " — which was a large, unfinished apartment, very 
plain in its appointments and slender in details. 

A home-made carpet, a dozen chairs — noticeable only for 
substantiality — a small table supporting a smaller looking- 
glass, and a large bed in one corner, made up the inventory 
of Silas Stanhope's "keepin'-rooin." 

Martha Stanhope pulled down her calico sleeves over her 
red arms, and directing Newton, the oldest boy, to prevent 
the feline domestic from depredating upon the table — or, 
in Martha's own phraseology, to "keep that narsty cat from 
hookin' his grub!" — she hurried out to the " keepin'-room." 

" Wall, neow, ef yeou don't beat all, 'Lonzo ! — poppin' in 
'pon a body without a bit o' warnin,' when we hain't got 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 171 

narthin' nice enough for city folks ! I be glad to see ye, 
though. Where 's Hannah ? " 

Hannah was Alonzo's wife. 

The city brother replied, that Hannah was partially 
necessitated to remain at home, as Horace was up from 
North Carolina, and "stopping" at his house. His face 
was very grave as he communicated this information. 
Yankee inquisitiveness was wide awake. 

" Yeou don't say ! " ejaculated Silas. 

" I want tew know!" cried Martha. " Be his wife along?" 

" No ! " with a mysterious shake of the head. 

Silas and Martha were fully aroused. They looked at 
each other intelligently, and back at the sober face from 
the city. 

"Screw loose ? " suggested Silas. 

" Muss ? " inquired Martha. " Dew tell ! " 

" I don't clearly comprehend the business myself. Horace 
has failed in Carolina, and come on alone. He says his 
wife would have accompanied him but for her father's 
threats, of whoin she is childishly afraid. But that cistern 
don't hold water, for the law gives a man his wife, and no 
one can withhold her from him, if she is disposed to follow. 
There 's something behind the face of affairs that I can't 
ferret out. Horace says his wife is devoted to him, but her 
father is his foe, for some incomprehensible cause." 

" P'raps Bertha is afraid of losing the old man's money," 
suggested Silas. 

" Pooh ! — all made up by Horace's pride. Belmont's 
entire possessions won't amount to seventeen thousand dol- 
lars, and he has two children. Cooley, of the firm of 'Cooley 
& Harman,' with whom Horace has dealt in carrying on 
his business in the South, has recently returned from Wil- 
liamsville, and gives an unvarnished statement. Belmont 
is a Yankee himself, and has not made a fortune in North 



172 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Carolina. Horace acknowledges the truth, now, and treats 
his deception as a pleasant joke ! He 's my brother — and 
I 'm sorry to say it — but the handsome dog is unprincipled 
and shameless ! " 

" Them 's my sentiments, chuck threough ! You remember 
that saddle, 'Lonzo ? " said Silas, with an indignant scowl. 

Alonzo Stanhope first smiled, then his white, even teeth 
shone through his parting lips, and his broadcloth and satin 
shook with silent risibility. He never laughed aloud. 

" Silas '11 never forgive Horace for that Indian gift ! " 
tittered Martha, shutting her eyes tight as she laughed. 

" I had a use for that saddle, an' Horace owed me more 
'n it was worth ; an' I swan tew man, if it w r ern't mean I " 
said Silas, waxing hot as he thought of his loss. 

" That 's only a fisherman's luck," returned Alonzo, try- 
ing to suppress his mirthful emotions and look grave. 
" He owes me more than I suppose he will ever repay ; for 
he 's come on without means sufficient to pay his board, and 
relies upon his brothers for present aid. I 've got him into 
the store with Allyn, but how long he '11 stay is problemat- 
ical. Horace is too erratic and improvident ever to succeed 
in business, I 'm afraid." 

"Like as not, his wife ain't as harnsome as he tells, 
either," suggested Martha, now fully sceptical. 

"Yes, he told the truth there, for once. It was her rare 
beauty that went to his heart — for Horace is deeply in 
love with his wife — no question about that; and I hope his 
affection for her will reform him at last. He is evidently 
very unhappy, and exceedingly anxious to make money 
enough to return to Williamsville and set up business inde- 
pendently of her father, whom he hates for reasons not 
satisfactory to my mind, as I can gather them. Mr. Cooley 
will go South again in September, and I rely upon him for 
the whole truth of this strange affair. There 's something 



BEAUTY. 173 

untold, or Horace would not have left his wife, and suffer 
so severely for it as he evidently docs." 

"Horace is dreadful jealous - minded — maybe," — and 
Martha left her hearers to fill up the blank. 

" That is my fear, from some things that have incidentally 
transpired. Horace throws all the blame upon Belmont; 
but my impression is, Bertha would hand it over to him. 
It's a mixed up mess, anyhow, and one can't depend upon 
Horace for straightforward facts." 

" I said he 'd get burnt, when I heard of his marriage," 
chimed in Silas, taking it for granted the suggestion was 
correct. " They say them Southern folks eat fire and spit 
it out regular, when they git riled." 

" An' Horace is pooty well calculated tew rile a body's 
temper, if they 've got any worth mentionin' — I swan ! " 

" Be you certain that Bertha is harnsome as Horace 
tells ? " persisted Martha, whose incredulity and woman's 
curiosity were fully aroused. 

"Mr. Cooley bears him out in that assertion. He saw 
Bertha after a long illness, and confirms Horace's declara- 
tion, notwithstanding her loss of bloom and vigor. She is 
celebrated for her beauty wherever she is known, and had 
a host of suitors when she married, despite her lack of 
wealth. Cooley vows she has the sweetest and most charm- 
ingly lovely face he ever beheld ; and her form is faultless." 

" I swan ! " said Silas, jerking out one foot to shake down 
his pants. 

" Dew tell neow ! " echoed Martha, with eyes full of 
interest in her Southern sister. "Did n't Horace paint her 
with his tongue, 'Lonzo? — tell us, neow — dew! " 

" She has rich brown, modest eyes, that melt and brighten 

with every varying emotion ; golden - brown curls that 

catch sunbeams in their coils, and dance and ripple over a 

dainty lily-fair neck and shoulders, and around a delicate 

15* 



174 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

face, snow-white and modest as a violet. Horace says her 
mouth was just made for kissing — small, velvety, and peach- 
hued — and if I ever have an opportunity, I '11 try it on !" 

" Yeou 'd better not neow ! " warned Martha, as soberly 
as though Alonzo were about to execute his threat. "Horace 
will git mad as a March hare, and jealous as a Chinee — 
that 's so ! " 

" Pooh ! not of his brother, I guess ! " 

" Makes no difference who ; it 's bred in the bone with 
Horace, and can't come out of the flesh. I never did see 
the beat of that boy ! " said Silas, on whose ' farm ' Horace 
had worked. 

" Well," inquired Martha, who was not yet satisfied, " is 
she little or large ? " 

" Child-like in proportions, a little below the medium 
height, slender, and willowy as a lily-stem. Horace says 
he carries her about in his arms ' like a doll.' " 

"Wall, I 'd like tew see the child — I swan ! " said Silas, 
pulling his suspenders over his shoulders and fastening 
them in front ; " but I have my doubts if she '11 ever follow 
Horace this fur. I 'm afraid he 's got crooked down there, 
an' never '11 git straightened eout. How about supper, 
mother ? " 

" Good land, if I did n't forgit ! And jest as like as not, 
Newt 's gone, and the cat 's took the table and cleaned the 
cubberd ! " 

" And I 'm hungry as a bear," laughed Alonzo, as she 
hurried away. 

Martha Stanhope found her tired boy fast asleep beside 
the baby's cradle, and old Tabby lord of the tea-table, and 
lapping the cream to his thirsty heart's content. 

" Git eout ! s'boy ! shu ! " shouted Martha, clapping her 
hands and stamping her feet furiously, — forgetting, in her 
excitement, the usual word of command to a feline offender. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 175 

Old Tabby cleared the room at two bounds, and made 
his escape through a rear window, with very straight tail 
and dropped ears, and slackened not his speed till he at- 
tained the summit of the " stunheap," where he sat down 
and licked his whiskers complacently, looking back defiance 
at his wrathful mistress, who shook her fist and sent shrill 
anathemas after him from his point of egress. 

Newt was effectually roused by the hubbub occasioned by 
his negligence, and comprehending the unwholesome state 
of surrounding circumstances at one startled glance, he 
made his escape through the back-door on all fours, before 
Martha's ready hand could reach his ears as a " constitu- 
tional amendment." 



CHAPTER XXXI. 



I WONDER if Charles is going to that meeting?" mut- 
tered Mr. Redmond, incredulously, as they hurried 
toward the hall of convention, where they arrived — accom- 
panied by Agnes — a moment before Walter and Charles 
entered, arm in arm. 

They stationed themselves on a vacant bench, immedi- 
ately in front of Mr. Redmond's party — Charles wearing 
every appearance of a culprit going to execution. 

His presence produced a universal commotion among 
the crowd; surprise and curiosity became visible in each 
face familiar with the young man's previous course. 

A nervous start and happy flush indicated the amazement 
and pleasure of Agnes. 



176 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Walter turned and bestowed upon Edalia a glance of 
triumph from his bright, glad eyes. 

A thrilling discourse was delivered by an elderly man 
with long flowing hair and slightly bowed form, whose 
personal experience was the most prominent and touching 
feature. 

He told of the high hopes of early manhood — of a fair 
and gentle girl who plighted her troth with him at the holy 
altar ; whose love, like the green vine around the forest- 
oak, blossomed through storms as in sunshine. He depicted 
his downward tendency from the pedestal of dignity and 
joy to the dark abyss of degradation and woe — only 
awaking from his lethargy to miss, forever, the soothing 
hand upon his brow of her whom he had destroyed ! She 
slept in the quiet churchyard, the innocent victim of the 
simoom of Intemperance ! 

Symptoms of restlessness were manifest in Charles during 
the exordium, but the peroration found him with chin rest- 
ing upon his hand, and dark eyes riveted wildly upon the 
speaker. 

The orator closed with the admonition : 

"Man — made in the image and likeness of God ! Man, 
fallen and degenerate man ! By the memory of the mother 
who watched over your wayward and helpless infancy, and 
who, perchance, slumbers now in silence and shade, where 
no word from her warning lips can come to plead with her 
darling boy, to stay his steps from ruin and wretchedness; 
by the memory of the glad and girlish bride whose tender 
arms entwined you in manhood's fair morn, ere the dark 
clouds of sorrow and desolation rose from the death-sea of 
intoxication, and rolled over the sunny horizon of your 
peaceful and prosperous years, raining destruction upon 
your Eden of life and love ; by the helpless ones, whose 
onward way in this world of strife will be darkened by your 



177 

Bhadow, or brightened by your beams; and by the still 
small voice that whispers in the winds and the waves, in 
the blue sky, and the green earth : 

• It is not all of life to live, 
Nor all of death to die,' — 

arouse from your apathetic slumber, and exercise the powers 
with which God has endowed you, ere the last bud of your 
heart's joy and pride falls »from your side to the voiceless 
tomb, and you awake, too late, and go forth a lone wanderer 
in the pathway of life, with remorse written upon your 
memory, — alone — like your speaker ! " 

He sat down, and the deep hush that succeeded was at 
length broken by the light footfalls of the official members. 

Walter grasped the Pledge and presented it to Charles. 
He gazed at it silently and undecisively a moment, put forth 
his hand to receive it, but drew it back quickly, and a deep 
flush overspread his face. 

Walter sat down, laid his arm over Charles's shoulder, 
and spoke fast and earnestly. 

Edalia grew cold with suspense, and the brown eyes of 
Agnes looked icy. Charles sat like a stoic — stately and 
frigid. He had once said : " It is easier to resist than to re- 
form." 

" Gave it to me, Misther Eldon," said a weather-beaten 
son of the Emerald Isle, with a rich brogue, reaching his 
hard, sun-burnt hand across Charles, and drawing his thread- 
bare coat-sleeve across his watery eyes; — "be the powers, 
an' I'll sign, yer honor. Mike Murphy can't stan' the 
likes o' that, yer worship. Be the memory o' me ould 
mither that's dead and gone — the houly Mary rest 'er 
sowl ! — I '11 make a clane breast of it, yer honor, an' the 
whiskey may go to the divil — faith ! " 

He seized the paper, and wrote his name in large, round 

M 



178 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

characters, with a big bright tear rolling slowly down a 
deep furrow in his careworn cheek. 

Charles's stern features relaxed, as he looked upon this 
drop of affection to the memory of a lost mother, warm from 
the heart of this old time-tossed mariner on life's rough 
sea ; he received it from his brown, toil-hardened hand, and 
traced his own name beneath with tremulous fingers. 

Mr. Redmond grasped a hand of each with a vigorous 
shake, and a "Bravo, by Jupiter! " 

Charles drew himself up, with a long respiration, as though 
relieved of an oppressive burden, and a faint smile flitted 
over his features. 

Agnes laughed, with the round tears sparkling in her 
young eyes, like dewdrops in spring sunshine ; while Edalia's 
face was hidden from view ; and Walter went through the 
crowd with a firm, proud step, and quiet smile upon his ra- 
diant face. 

As they retired from the room, Edalia observed her 
uncle cast a searching, eager glance back upon the orator 
of the evening, with a melancholy expression in his wistful 
eye. Mr. Redmond's face had the seeming of one living in 
the past, oblivious of the present, as he turned from that 
searching gaze at the stranger's countenance, and Edalia 
knew he sighed softly as they passed out of the old school- 
house. 

" Go in first, Edalia," begged Charles, as they arrived at 
the door of Minnie's apartment. She obeyed. 

Minnie stood bending over the cherub form of little 
Charlie, fast asleep in his cradle-bed, with one chubby arm 
thrown backward, and nestling among the short, golden 
curls of his cunning little head, peeping brightly out from 
its snug, warm nest, "a thing of beauty," and "a joy for- 
ever," to the pale watcher beside it. 

" Minnie dear, the Dove has returned to the Ark ! " 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 179 

The young mother and heart-broken wife looked at her 
friend wildly, till comprehending the blissful reality, as 
Charles entered smiling, she sprang forward with a low, 
glad cry, and fainted in his clasping arms. 

" 'There is more joy over one sinner that repenteth, than 
over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance,'" 
said Walter, as they went from the happy pair to Mr. Red- 
mond's bachelor home. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 



MEXTS. — BERTHA SEES 

STANHOPE 'S come!" 
A little chill crept from Bertha's bounding heart, and 
ran frosty through her frame, as Mr. Belmont, with sober 
face and slightly vexed tone, made the sudden announce- 
ment. 

" Pa ! " was all she said. 

"Now we shall have it, ad nauseam," continued Mr. 
Belmont, growing indignant, as he thought of the past, and 
anticipated the future. " Stanhope has no fear of God or 
shame of man, and no reputation to lose in this community, 
and his vindictive spirit will do its worst to foment disturb- 
ance in this family. As Job said of the day of his birth, 
I now say of the day you married him: 'Let it not be 
numbered with the days of the year ' ! " 

Mr. Belmont at last realized fully his great error and 
wrong in influencing his daughter to unite her destiny with 
one of whom she knew nothing and cared less. He knew 



180 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

it was all the work of his own hands, and } T et he set his 
wits to work to obviate the calamity of seeing his only and 
idolized daughter go forth from the safe shelter of his roof 
with the worthless husband he had chosen. 

It was a bitter reflection to the erring old man, now that 
he feared for the future. 

" I only hope he won't remain long in this section," he 
proceeded, as he walked the floor restlessly, and speculated 
upon the result of Stanhope's wiles to win his wife away. 
"If the fellow had gone to Ballyhack, we might have lived 
in peace ; but now we shall have crocodile tears, Pharisaic 
prayers, and promises strong as Goliath in seeming, but 
fragile as a pipe-stem in reality. I know the man ! " 

" Well," after a long pause, and silent pondering as his 
firm feet traversed the apartment, " I have no authority to 
control you now, my child ; but if you suffer yourself to be 
deluded, and actuated by false promises and apparent 
penitence, I feel confident, from my knowledge of the man's 
principles, you will see the day you will regret your weak- 
ness in relying upon one so base ! " 

Bertha went up to her chamber and sat down by the 
window, where six months ago she had asked herself if she 
was sad, for that Horace Stanhope was far away; and 
shrank, half afraid, from the feeling answer. Now she 
asked her heart if it was glad because Horace Stanhope 
had returned, and Bertha could not define the feelings that 
ebbed and flowed in her searching soul. 

His handsome face and fond unkindness (Bertha could 
only translate it thus) rose up vividly before her young 
vision, and she smiled. Then his dishonesty and falsehood, 
his atheism, his jealous tyranny, stood out in full and for- 
midable proportions, and her fair brow contracted with in- 
ward pain and foreboding. 

"If he were only a Christian," she said, mentally, "how 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 181 

I could love him! Ho is my husband, I am his wife; bound 
together as one for all time. God only can sever the cord 
that binds us for weal or for woe. Perhaps his experience 
from long absence has taught him wisdom. Perhaps," — 
and Bertha sat still, with a little icy ripple skimming the 
surface of a warming sea of thought. 

Ah, when Bertha had reached the " perhaps," in reason- 
ing with herself of her unworthy husband, there was no 
longer security for her strength of will against future 
events. 

" Perhaps he has reformed, for ' with God all things are 
possible,' and we shall live happily together," was what 
Bertha had left unsaid ; for secret belief conflicted with 
thought and yearning wish, and hope could not give birth 
to words. 

" I will wait and see," was the conclusion to her long 
train of thought awakened by Horace Stanhope's sudden 
advent in startled Williamsville, — "and let coming events 
cast the die for my destiny. I wonder if he expects me to 
return with him to New York. I will wait and see." 

And she waited, but not long. 

The quiet town of Williamsville was soon alive with the 
surprising story that "Yankee Stanhope, the handsome 
rascal, had opened a full store on Main Street, and was 
doing finely, — owned a splendid ' fast horse,' and sported 
a negro servant, and carried things with the air of a nabob." 

Bertha smiled, quietly, but made no comments, as did her 
less considerate father ; but she was equally as sceptical. 

" I '11 bet any amount he '11 fail in less than five months," 
said fearful Mr. Belmont — fearful for the effect of Stan- 
hope's proximity to his daughter, and unavoidable views of 
his handsome and seemingly repentant face. "Moreover, 
I '11 wager he don't own one dollar of all that goes under 
his name; and, like as not, he '11 get into jail for the 'fine 
10 



182 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

business ' he 's doing. I pity the fellow that trusted him — 
that 's all ! Well, if he '11 steer clear of me and mine, he 
may go scot-free, so far as I'm concerned. I 've had enough 
of him for one lifetime." And Mr. Belmont tossed a 
tobacco-quid behind the back log, and glanced slyly at 
Bertha to observe her expression. 

" Pity but you had thought so from the beginning, pa." 

" Yes, child ; but I never was so deceived in a man in all 
my born days — hang me, if it ain't so ! " 

Mr. Belmont hitched in his easy-chair, nervously, and 
expectorated freely in the direction of the discarded quid. 

" And now it is too late to repent," said Bertha, as she 
turned away. 

" Hey ? " interrogated the old man ; but no reply came, 
for the speaker had passed out ; and it was long before she 
sat there again. 

" I '11 be hanged if I like that ! " said the doubting father 
to Mrs. Belmont, — " it has n't the right sound for safety ! I 
question if the girl don't trust to the villain's promises and 
make-believe penitence, and run off with the rascal. And 
the next we know he '11 switch her away to New York, and 
break her heart with jealous cruelty, or starve her to death 
with his poverty ; for the fellow ain't worth shucks, nohow ! 
Bertha is a good girl, but too easily led by kindness ; and 
the mischief of it is, she can't discern the counterfeit from 
the current article. She ought to know, by this time, how 
little reliance is to be placed upon his honor. Well, she 
won't go with my consent — that's settled. I'm really 
fearful the scoundrel will commit some desperate act in 
secret, and claw out by attributing it to accident. I don't 
believe her life is safe in his hands — he's so infernally 
jealous ! " 

While Mr. Belmont's fears were thus finding vent in 
anxious words, Bertha was going with triumphant Horace 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 183 

Stanhope to the "pleasant room" he had "prepared for 
her"! 

Horace had smuggled touchingly beautiful penitent let- 
ters, brimful of fondest love and solemn promises and pious 
sentiments, into her hand, and thrown himself in her way on 
every possible occasion, with loving reproach in his sadly 
smiling blue eyes, and soft snatch-kisses upon her little 
white hand, until Bertha was subjugated by her husband's 
perseverance and tender pleading ; and she said to her 
heart : 

" I can but try. It is my duty to do all in my power to 
render him happy, now that I am his wife. I shall love 
him, if he will let me ; I believe I love him now, he is so 
handsome and tender. He looks changed, — perhaps we 
shall do well. I will trust to him." 

And so Bertha passed from her father's presence down 
the old garden to the back gate, where Horace Stanhope 
awaited her; and the exulting husband bore her off in 
triumph. 

Bertha left her home secretly, to avoid the excitement of 
an open departure. She was so delicately constituted that 
mental stimulation racked her head with torturing pain. 
And hence, her past life with Horace Stanhope had robbed 
her of vivacity and bloom. She was now healthful and 
brilliantly beautiful, as in the days of his courtship ; and 
Horace Stanhope's loving but depraved heart burned with 
restless desire to get possession of his bewitching lovely 
young wife. And so elated was he with his success in 
"stealing her away from the old codger" — as he subse- 
quently expressed it — that full seven days passed peace- 
fully away before the shadow of a cloud appeared in their 
domestic horizon ; which was an unprecedented event in 
their connubial life ; for not one week had passed, after their 
marriage, before Horace Stanhope humbly apologized for 



184 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

some freak of his unfortunate disposition, that shook up the 
tears to the brown eyes of his beautiful young bride. 

Bertha was beginning to feel that a change, radical and 
permanent, had been wrought in her husband during his long 
absence, and bright hope for the future shone in the zenith 
of her matrimonial sky, when a sudden storm-cloud sw T ooped 
up from the low horizon, and obscured the golden beams. 
Then she said : " It is vain to hope ! " 

Our heroine had not returned to her home since the day 
she went out from it w T ith victorious Horace Stanhope ; but 
now, in answer to her mother's message, she was preparing 
for a visit, when her watchful lord entered the chamber. 

" Where now, Bertha ? " 

"Down home, — ma has sent for me." 

" Home ! Is not this your home, Bertha ? " 

" You know what I mean, Horace. Ma is not well, and 
wishes to see me." 

" And I wish you to decline the invitation. Which will 
-you obey ? " 

" Mr. Stanhope ! " 

" My wife, which will you obey ? " 

Bertha sank upon the bedside, unable to sustain her frail 
form under the sudden shock. This was the heaviest blow 
she had yet received. To refuse a sick mother's request was 
more than her filial affection could endure with composure. 
She reflected a moment. 

" Why do you wish me to decline?" 

" You should not desire to visit those whom you know are 
your husband's bitterest enemies." 

" And why are they not your friends ? " — Bertha's spirit 
was rising. 

" That is neither here nor there — they are not my friends." 

"But they are my friends, Mr. Stanhope, and my parents. 
If they are not yours, it is no fault of theirs — you know that. 



185 

It will be unnatural for me to refuse a sick mother" — 
she grew pale at the thought. 

" We shall never live in peace, Bertha, until you are 
away from them. We have been happy together since your 
intercourse has been suspended. If they would leave you 
alone with me, you would have no cause to complain of 
unkindness in your husband; for you know you are dearer 
to my heart than the life-blood that nourishes it." 

His arms were around her now, and the old soothing soft- 
ness was in his tone and heavenly-blue eyes. 

There was a strong struggle in her soul, between filial 
love and wifely duty. It is true, they had lived quietly 
since she left her home; but Bertha had been shut out from 
the world since she returned to Horace Stanhope, and his 
green life had nothing to feed upon. 

He had taken her to a little, dark, unwholesome room in 
his business establishment, from which she had not emerged 
since she left her father's roof, and guarded her with unre- 
mitting care ; trusting to the honesty of a negro servant dur- 
ing his master's absence from the store. 

They had lived peacefully, thus ; but now that she was 
about to disappear from his watchful eyes a little w T hile, and 
go out into the free air once more, the clouds gathered 
above her head. Horace Stanhope was jealous of his wife's 
love for her parents and brother ! Bertha knew that, for 
he had, long ago, forbidden her to receive her father's good- 
night kiss ! He said that " now she was a married woman 
she should forget such a childish custom." And Bertha 
had submitted to his arbitrary will, for the sweet sake of 
peace that never came ; for there were no limits to his jeal- 
ous requirements. 

Bertha thought it all over, as she sat there, with his arms 
around her, her head upon his idolizing but torturing 
breast, and his hand smoothing back the brown curls from 
16* 



18G BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

her beautiful but sorrowful young face. She knew he loved 
her, and she knew, also, that his love was the Upas of her 
life ! But she would yield, so long as yielding could insure 
peace, without conflicting with a higher law. 

" Will you obey me, Bertha ? " — he knew she would, 
without the query ; for Bertha's face mirrored her soul as 
clearly as a glass the object before it. Horace Stanhope 
had learned to read that face as easily as a simple sentence 
in English — he knew how far to presume, and when to 
repent; but in his rage, when the serpent bit him with 
unusual severity, he often overstepped the bounds of pru- 
dence, and brought a heavy rain with him when he came 
back. 

" It is very hard, but I will not go, unless — " 

" Unless what, dear ? " 

" Unless ma should grow worse. If her indisposition in- 
creases, you will not object ? " 

" Oh, no danger of that. It 's only a ruse to get you 
there ! I '11 bet my head the old woman is well enough ! " 
and he went out, smiling and rejoicing over his victory. 

She could not help it — the thought came without any 
volition of will — it was the first feeling of a like character 
that had troubled her since their reunion ; — but Bertha 
thought, as she looked after his retiring form, he would have 
to bet something of more value, if he would tempt her to 
take it ! 

To hear her loving and loved mother, now sick and suf- 
fering from her absence, thus coolly and contemptuously 
spoken of, burned our spirited heroine, and she hastily re- 
pented of her promise to the unfeeling, exacting man. 

"He merited no consideration — he was unworthy of re- 
spect," she said, impulsively ; but remembering the words, 
" Wives, be obedient to your husbands ; even as Sarah 
obeyed Abraham, calling him lord," — she crushed down 



BEAUTY. 187 

the bitter waters, and tried to evoke a better spirit. But 
Bertha sat there, and thought of her dear mother's tender 
love and sickness, and her own unhappy situation, in being 
heaven - bound to yield obedience to a jealous tyrant, 
until her soul died within her ; and she felt if God 
would take her out of the world she could go without a 
struggle. 

It was a bitter moment — full of conflicting passions, dis- 
gust, and yearning to break the fetters that bound her in 
links of iron. Then a face rose up before her, and deepened 
her disgust and loathing and remorse — the same face her 
mournful eyes had seen when she looked beyond the low 
brown house with the long piazza back into the years, and 
stood in the spring sunshine of her fourteenth year. It was 
a living secret, buried deep in her silent heart. Her father 
had come between them then, and now it was wrong for the 
wife of Horace Stanhope to dwell in fancy upon that face, 
with its mild, spiritual eyes and intellectual brow 7 , where 
truth and honor were legibly written by God's own fingers. 
It had passed away from the low brown house with the long 
piazza, but left a deathless memory in her youthful heart 
that none had ever suspected. She knew it had vainly tried 
to return, and then it was lost among the rolling years ; and 
Bertha wondered if the mild spiritual eyes yet beamed, and 
the noble brow was caressed by fairy fingers, as it would 
have been by hers, if her shrinking soul had been stronger 
in the dear departed days ! 

It was the memory of that face that had shielded her 
heart in after-years, and covered her with confusion when 
Mr. Redmond spoke of love, — it was that living remem- 
brance of what might have been, and what might yet be, 
that made her shrink from Horace Stanhope and plead for 
a release. She saw that face distinctly, and felt it would 
haunt her future years, when she wrote Edalia : 



1S8 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" I cannot divest myself of the indefinable feeling, that the 
life of ' Bertha the Beauty ' will be a wreck ! " 

She strove to put the memory from her after her mar- 
riage, but it would be felt in hours of struggling such as she 
now endured ; and the mild spiritual eyes looked through 
the years that were gone, with living reproach for her weak- 
ness in yielding to a lover's fondness and a father's will, 
against the secret convictions of her own heart and con- 
science. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

THE HIDDEN HEART. — EDALIA IS AGONIZED. 

DO you know, Walter, my boy, that Wilmer the Lecturer 
has purchased and taken possession of your grand- 
father's old homestead ? 

Walter Eldon's face became as colorless as the rose-bud 
that Edalia had playfully pinned to his coat-collar; he 
dropped his arras upon the table, and exclaimed : 

"Is it possible?" 

" Fact, boy. I Ve just done up the business to the satis- 
faction of all the parties concerned, and seen the new pro- 
prietor legally installed. And the marvel is, Wilmer paid 
down thirty thousand dollars in El Dorado gold for the 
landed estate, accumulated, he informed me, by three years' 
delving in the mines of California. Great place that for 
Indians, reptiles, and Achan wedges — by Jupiter ! " 

Walter sat musing, with his eyes resting upon his fingers, 
that unconsciously beat a noiseless tattoo upon the table. 

" Y-e-s, sir." 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 189 

He roused up from his revery, pushed back his chair, and 
continued, with a face of calm decision : 

"A more propitious moment I could not avail myself of, 
sir, to apprise you of a design I have in contemplation. 

The steamer leaves New York for San Francisco at 

an early day, and it is my purpose to procure a passage 
to that western port." 

Mr. Kedmond started back aghast, and brought his fist 
down upon the table with a violence that astonished the 
crockery and glassware. 

" Co/i-fusion ! Go to that t'other-side-of-creation country, 
where the finest fun is twirling the tomahawk around your 
scalp, and the wolves snap at your hair under the miner's 
canvas ! Nonsense, boy — nonsense ! I say you shan't do 
it — by Jupiter ! " 

"But, sir—" 

"No 'buts,' sir ! Your sainted mother bequeathed you to 
my care and guidance, and I have endeavored to perform a 
faithful part by her orphan boy. There are no ties of con- 
sanguinity that render obligatory upon you any act of obe- 
dience to me. You are now free to will and to do as your 
inclination prompts; but with my consent you will never 
carry into effect this w T ild project. Have I failed in my 
duty to the dead and the living, boy, that you wish to desert 
me, now that the sun is almost set and the night is closing 
round ? " 

Walter's eyes moistened. He started up, and, leaning 
over the old man's chair, laid his arms upon his shoulders, 
and said, tremulously : 

"No, sir ; you have ever been to me a friend and a father. 
I can never repay your manifold kindnesses and munifi- 
cence ; but my deep sense of the gratitude I owe you is only 
equalled by that I feel. But — " 

"But what, boy?" He drew Walter's arms over, and 



190 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

crossed thein upon his breast. " Speak out, sir ; let 's have 
an eclaircissement." 

" But, as you say, sir, there are no ties of consanguinity to 
entitle me to further munificence; and now that you have 
laid the foundation, it behooves me to rear the structure by 
my own individual exertions." 

"And ain't you doing it, sir? Why, how much work 
have you accomplished since the old judge licensed you to 
labor ? P faith, you '11 have a famous structure in five 
years, boy." 

" Five years ! " 

" Eh ? you deprecate the period ! Five years at your 
age is n't an eternity, boy. Why this impatience to be rich 
speedily ? " 

Walter's face crimsoned as he turned slowly away, and 
replied : 

" That, sir, I must withhold even from you." 

A vigorous knock at the door announced a visitor, and 
interrupted the discussion. They adjourned to the parlor. 
Di entered with the information that Mr. Simpkins desired 
a private interview with Mr. Eldon. Walter led the way to 
the office. 

" What the deuce is on the docket now ? " grumbled Mr. 
Redmond, as he paced the room with rapid strides. 

"Girl, you're white as that curtain! You sympathize 
with my apprehensions. That Simpkins is a bird of ill omen. 
I feel a presentiment of evil. I 've foreseen it for months — 
that Henley ! Yes, yes, there 's mischief before the court ; 
but don't be scared, Ed, — hang me, if I don't blow this 
plot sky-high in a twinkling ! " 

He touched the bell, and dispatched John with a message 
to Walter. 

"Boy," as the young man answered the summons, "you 
can now cancel every debt of gratitude that you think due 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 191 

me, as your guardian from infancy, by one act of confi- 
dence. What is the purport of this secret transaction ? " 

"Sir, I have received a challenge from Colonel Henley." 

" Just as I — monster ! " breathed. Mr. Redmond hoarsely 
through his clenched teeth. 

An icy coldness crept over Edalia. She stole silently 
from the room, and ascended the stairs as swiftly as her 
nervous temperament would permit. She entered her cham- 
ber and secured the door. 

Alone, a host of thoughts and feelings crowded around 
her; now curdling about her heart, then leaping wildly 
along the blue, throbbing channels of life. 

She knew his proud, intrepid spirit; combined with the 
meekness and gentleness of a dove, he possessed firmness and 
fearlessness unsurpassed. 

Would he meet Henley ? She doubted it not ! Who so 
young, and exquisitely sensitive on all points touching his 
fair fame, could by any act of moral courage brand it in a 
worldly sense with the term " coward " ? Like the Apostle 
Paul, she "reasoned after the manner of men." 

The blood rushed hotly to her brain. She sank dizzily 
upon the floor and pressed her burning brow upon the 
marble slab of her dressing-table. 

As she knelt, the past, with all its various phases, moved 
slowly before her — a broad and varied panorama of life's 
changing scenes. The bright-eyed, buoyant boy, ever atten- 
tive to her lightest wish — her unappreciative soul — the 
sober, thoughtful youth, breathing farewell for years, with 
moist eyes and a half uttered thought upon his pale lips 
checked and frozen by her smiling coldness — the proud, 
firm-hearted man folding in his isolated heart a silent, secret 
sorrow ! She traced step by step the melting of her frozen 
heart, slowly but effectually, till wholly liquefied and lost in 
the deep stream of his own life and love ! 



192 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

And now fancy pictured the battle-field ; the noble form 
extended upon the damp ground in the agonies of death ! — • 
dying, unconscious that two lives are ebbing away beneath 
the murderer's exulting eye! 

Edalia sprang up and wandered around the room in un- 
utterable anguish. She caught her reflection in the broad 
mirror, as she paced the chamber, and stopped in mute 
wonder and fascination. 

The face was marble-white and rigid, and the blue veins 
lay in threads upon the temples, pulsing wildly and hotly. 
Mortal pallor surrounded the slightly parted lips ; dark, 
heavy circles encompassed the flashing black eyes ; and the 
long loose curls hung in midnight masses over the snowy 
robe and livid face, like a cloud of woe. 

Tears would have been a relief — a luxury; — but the 
fierce flame that surged through her heart and brain dried 
up the liquid fountain-waters ; and pressing her hand upon 
the scorched and thirsty lids, she leaned over the golden let- 
ters glittering upon the white shell, and another memory 
swept over her. 

She had observed in Walter's chamber an elegant volume, 
well worn ; and on the fly-leaf was traced in delicate chi- 
rography : 

"Eva Eldon. 
A Mother's dying Gift to her darling boy." 

B neath was written, in bold characters : 

" Word of the everliving God, 
Will of His glorious Son, 
Without thee, how could earth be trod, 
Or Heaven itself be won." 

And the simple word "Mother" betrayed the author. 
And as Edalia leaned, now in tearless agony, a pencilled 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 193 

passage therein arose to her mental vision, and found a deep 
response in her wretched heart: 

" Whither thou goest, I will go; where thou diest, I will 
die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and 
mure also, if aught but death part thee and me." 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 



THE "FACE REPROACHES BERTHA. — GREEN -EYES 
DEFEATED. — CLAUDE BELMONT. 

THE face looked up through the years sadly reproachful 
at Bertha, as she sat there on the bedside and thought 
how weak she had been in yielding to others in a matter 
that would affect her whole future life, for happiness or 
misery. She had grown firmer in heart since that fatal 
day — she had learned to suffer and be strong. 

Bertha yearned to recall the words that bound her to 
Horace Stanhope for all time, or till death ; yearned with 
a soul-longing that grew to keenest pain, as she realized her 
position to the fullest extent. How firm, how brave she 
could be now in refusing her father's chosen — now that it 
was eighteen months too late ! 

She had thrown away her life; for what would the future 
be without love? She had thought to love him, through 
his own great love ; but how could she love one whom she 
could not respect? 

She had trusted to her father, blinded by prejudice and 
deceived by show, and he had led her into lifelong woe. She 
should have been braver and stood firm, in the conviction 
that marriage with Horace Stanhope would be a mockery 
in God's sight; — stood firm in refusing to syllable with her 
17 N 



194 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

]ips a vow that her whole heart could not utter. How will- 
ingly would she now risk his displeasure, and even be cast 
out from his home for disobedience, could she but be relieved 
of the great sin-burden and soul-pain of being an unloving, 
disgusted, hopeless wife ! 

Sitting there lamenting the great weakness that had 
wrecked her life ; mourning for the suffering mother, whom 
she was forbidden to see by a tyrant to whose power fate 
had fastened her forever, the deep cry of her struggling 
spirit was : " When — oh, when will it end ! " 

Seriously, was it her duty to submit to such tyranny, and 
by yielding to injustice and heartless cruelty render wretched 
one whose love for her was deathless and pure? — she asked 
herself. Then the solemn words of the marriage ritual, 
" And forsaking all others, keep thee only unto him, so long 
as you both shall live," came over her troubled conscience. 
She had sealed her own doom in assenting to those words, 
and there was no escape now. The path of duty was plainly 
marked out before her, and though thorny and sunless, she 
must walk the cheerless way. 

" I will try ! — I will try ! — and God help me ! " was the 
great cry of that bruised and blighted youthful heart. 

And she did. 

Bertha took up the monotonous thread of her daily life, 
and the weary hours went on. 

Horace Stanhope watched her truthful face, and chided 
her for every shade that settled in her brown eyes. Could 
she have been free from his scrutiny and constant reproaches 
for the effect produced by his own tyranny, life would have 
been less wearisome. 

" Stanhope won't suffer his wife to visit her mother, and 
the consequences are unfavorable to her present state of 
health," said Dr. Burnell, as he walked the hotel piazza, 
with sober eyes. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 195 

" Stanhope is the greatest Yankee rascal that ever mar- 
ried a Southern wife," replied Major Watson, the proprietor 
of the hotel. " The Lord knows, he only merits a piece of 
hemp, well twisted, for a cravat ! — that fact is pretty well 
known hereabouts. Anything worse in Mrs. Belmont's case, 
doctor?" 

" Yes ; I called in Dr. Whiteley this morning, and we con- 
sulted together. I won't take the responsibility of acting 
alone — the symptoms are bad ; and unless her daughter is 
permitted to visit her, I won't answer for the result ; mind 
and body are both disordered. I have advised Mrs. Stan- 
hope, through her brother, of her mother's situation, and I 
hardly think she can be restrained by her villanous lord. 
But she 's nothing but ware, in stronger hands, or she would 
not now be in that tyrant's power. If she were my sister, 
I 'd break his head before he does her heart, by George! " 

" Belmont threatens to shoot him, if he ever puts foot on 
his premises again ; and the rascal could n't do his wife and 
the world a greater favor and service than by tempting the 
old man to perform his vow ! I 'm blest, if he ain't too 
mean to live, and the whole community knows it. From 
his appearance he might have been cut out for a gentleman, 
but he was mortally ugly made up ! Why, sir, he has no 
more soul or shame than this pipe I 'm smoking — fact ! " 

"We all know him pretty thoroughly by this time, I 
'guess.' (Dr. Burnell was a native of New Jersey, and a 
little touched with Yankeeism in his language, but not in 
mechanism.) And how well she might have married, with 
her beauty and accomplishments ! She was the sweetest- 
looking sick woman I ever had the privilege of attending, 
and I thought him the most devoted husband the world 
ever saw, for the fellow never left the bedside when I was 
about. I comprehend now some little circumstances that 
transpired during my attendance, that were passed by at the 



196 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

time — the rascal was jealous of his wife's physician! I 

see it all now." 

"I should like to know of whom the fool is n't jealous — 
that 's all ! It matters not if he's old or young, married or 
single — it's all one to the scoundrel, if he looks admiringly 
at Bertha. There 's Harry Herbert — as honest a youth as 
ever said a prayer — says Bertha has n't spoken to him in 
twelve months, and — " 

" Herbert like to have gone mad after her marriage, and 
I suppose Green-Eyes has learned the fact." 

" Herbert seems to understand it now, but it hurt him at 
first. I only wish the man she 's got was half as honorable 
as the one she did n't have — that 's all ! If a girl is to 
shun all her old beaux after her marriage, and hate every- 
body but her husband, I say she 'd better take the veil in 
some convent, and die an old maid ! " 

" Hum ! " said the doctor, as he turned on his heel and 
strode indignantly away. 

Bertha had hoped to secure peace by yielding to her hus- 
band's requirements ; but she found it was not to be obtained 
on such terms. Harry Herbert was an especial object of his 
jealousy, notwithstanding she had faithfully performed her 
promise with reference to him. Horace Stanhope was con- 
tinually maligning his character, and commenting upon his 
daily deportment ; for what purpose, she at length divined ; 
his base soul could not be satisfied of her indifference, with- 
out proof in harsh words of one whom she could not but 
respect. Bertha's sense of honor and justice could not con- 
descend to gratify him there, and sly insinuations respecting 
secret affection for him at length grew to open accusations. 
Bertha's curling lip beat him back from further encroach- 
ments. Profane words closed the scene, and Stanhope's 
heels rang along the floor, as he made a hasty exit to cool 
down his rising temper. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 197 

Bertha found that peace with Horace Stanhope was not 
to be obtained on any terms. She had passed coolly a kind 
and Christian friend, to disarm his jealousy ; she had left 
her home, to gratify him ; she had refused a sick mother's 
request to test the effect of entire separation from her family, 
to whom he attributed the cause of their unhappiness in the 
past ; and yet their present life had become as restless and 
inharmonious as the past had been. She resolved to do her 
duty to all in the future, pursue a straightforward course 
as conscience might direct, and leave the consequences to 
Him, who, " for human weal, husbands all events." 

" Ma is very ill, sis. Dr. Burnell says he won't answer 
for the consequences, if you don't come home immediately." 
Claude Belmont was standing at Bertha's window, with 
deep concern upon his young face. 

Bertha started to her feet, spasmodically. 
" Is ma worse ? " 

" Yes ; and I don't believe the doctor has much hope of 
her ever being better," — his lips shut tightly. 

"Oh," Bertha wrung her small, child-like hands, "I 
thought she was improving — Horace told me so ! " 

"Horace is a lying knave! " thundered Claude, whitening 
with wrath at the sound of the najne. 

" Sh ! sh ! " said Bertha, glancing furtively at the door. 
"I don't care a snap ! " cried Claude, crossing his thumb 
and finger with a rousing report. " Satan 's a saint, to him, 
and hell ain't hot enough to scorch the infernal scoundrel ! 
If ma dies, I '11 spill his base blood as certain as there 's a 
bullet in the barrel — I will! " emphasized the fiery youth. 
" There, there ! don't get into a passion ; it won't mend 
matters a bit. Tell ma I'll come, 'though the heavens 
fall'!" 

And Claude Belmont knew she would, as he observed 
her face. 
17* 



198 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Horace ? " 

"Well, dear?" 

" Ma is growing rapidly worse, and Dr. Burnell has sent 
to advise me to go down immediately ! " 

" Who came ? " 

" Bud." 

"I thought so — ha, ha! Only a feint, Bertha. I've 
heard she 's improving — has n't been very sick at all." 

"Who told you?" 

" Well — ah — several who came into the store. I in- 
quired for your sake." 

" They spoke without authority then. It is n't likely they 
should be as well informed on the subject as Dr. Burnell." 

" Well, to satisfy you, I '11 inquire of the doctor." 

" I 'm satisfied already on that point. I called you to say, 
I wish to go down. I cannot longer remain away, and you 
surely will not object? " 

" But I do object — what then ? " 

" I would like to have your consent ; but if not, I must 
go without it." 

"You will?" 

" It is my duty, as a child ; and I should be less than 
human to refuse now. I^m going." 

"You are?" 

"I am. Do you consent, Horace? " 

" No, by ! And when you get there — stay I " 

"Very well, Mr. Stanhope — I will." 

Horace Stanhope grew white as death, as she turned 
away. He felt he had tolled the bell for his own funeral, 
but he was too hard and hot to apologize then ; and he 
trusted to his arts and wiles to win her back. 

He watched her as she went down the thoroughfare, and 
saw her recognize Harry Herbert with a bow. Harry lifted 
his hat gracefully, and held it respectfully above his head, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 199 

as he looked after her, too, with a mingling of sadness and 
pity in his soft blue eyes. 

Horace Stanhope writhed with animosity, and ground his 
teeth with jealous rage. 

Harry Herbert looked up at him, and saw the demon 
working in his face. Stanhope saw him smile as he turned 
away, and thought: 

" The scoundrel is exulting in his triumph ! " 

He subsequently repeated it to Bertha. She said, in 
reply to his accusation of falsehood : 

" I promised you, Horace, on condition that it would dis- 
arm your jealousy ; but it has not. I have determined to 
do my duty, and satisfy my conscience in the future, let the 
consequences be what they may. I have done violence to 
it many times for your sake, and it wins no reward from 
you of peace and confidence'^ 

" Oh, if that 's your game, your first duty is to obey me." 

"So far as your requirements are just and right — and I 
have done it ; and more. But I will not do violence to my 
conscience again, even for the sake of momentary quiet." 

Bertha found her mother very low, notwithstanding Stan- 
hope's daily information that she was "better," "improv- 
ing," " getting well," and so on. She reproached herself for 
her credulity, and having remained so long away, when she 
looked upon that poor, thin face. But the mother knew the 
child was guiltless of wrong, and uttered no word of com- 
plaint. 

Mrs. Belmont grew calm and cheerful, with her daughter 
by her bed-side, until the shades of evening came on ; then 
a restlessness was visible in her dark eyes. Bertha had not 
informed her home -circle of Horace Stanhope's parting 
words, knowing he would repent and come for her, and the 
past be exposed. She would conceal his meanness, so long 
as concealment were possible. 



200 

Mrs. Belmont watched her daughter as night came down. 

" He won't let you come again, Bertha ? " 

" He must promise to offer no opposition in future, or I 
will not return to him, ma." 

The mother laughed softly, with tears standing in her 
sunken eyes. 

" Hurra for you ! " shouted Claude, skipping up from his 
chair, and turning on his heel like a top, " that 's the way 
to put your foot down ! Screw him hard, and he '11 cave like 
a clay-bank in a long spell o' weather! You did n't begin 
right in the first place, sir ; you ought to have shown fight 
before your white shoes were off — such fellows need it to 
keep 'em straight ! Stanhope 's as arrant a coward as ever 
wore calf, and, like all of his kind, he will impose upon the 
weak and helpless ; while the strong and brave can push 
him to the wall without much of an effort. I don't approve 
of petticoat government, as a general thing, but I '11 be shot 
with a shovel if it ain't necessary with fellows like Stan- 
hope ! The more you kick a dog the better he '11 like you ; 
and the harder you flatten some people's nose, the easier 
you '11 get on with 'em — dog me ! " 

" Try to do your duty as a wife, and don't neglect your 
duty as a child, my daughter," said Mr. Belmont; "never 
run to extremes from a false sense of right, but take the 
intermediate path, and walk it firmly. Let reason dictate, 
and conscience obey." 

" I 'm going to do that in future, pa." He thought she 
was, when he looked at her. 

Mr. Belmont smiled strangely. He said to his wife, when 
Bertha w r as gone: 

"That child has grown wonderfully strong and self- 
conscious, of late. That small mouth shuts like a vice, 
when she means a thing ; and her face looks like flint some- 
times. I 'm glad of it," he added, as he knocked the ashes 



201 

from his pipe, and blew through the stem to clear the tube 
before laying it by. " Stanhope won't be able to impose 
upon her so easily now. I 'guess' she'll stick up for her 
rights. If she 'd been as independent two years ago, she 
wouldn't be a villain's wife now ! " 

This was the first hint that Mr. Belmont had ever 
breathed, respecting his influence in Bertha's unfortunate 



CHAPTER XXXV. 



MR. REDMOND "DIVES TO THE BOTTOM." — THE SECRET 
STORY REVEALED. 

EDALIA!" 
Walter's voice was quick and solicitous. She lifted 
her head from her hands and answered the call. He started 
back with a cry of terror, as she threw open the chamber- 
door. 

"Great God!— Edalia!" 

He caught her nervously in his arms, gathered her closely 
up to his frightened breast, and dropped his white face upon 
her deathlike brow. 

" Darling, there is no cause for distress ; I have declined — " 

Edalia heard no more. Her senses receded, and she lay 
insensible upon his breast. 

A confused noise of frightened sobs and flying servants 
greeted her as she awoke to consciousness. She was in the 
parlor, supported by Mr. Redmond and Walter, mutually. 

" Lor' bless de chile ! " said Aunt Cora, as she rubbed the 
cold white hands and held a burnt feather to her nose. 
"She never had a fit 'fore 'n 'er life, po' thing! Aunt 
( Jory knows she did n't ! " 



202 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Mr. Redmond started up, relieved, as Edalia opened her 
eyes. 

"Why, Ed, Lord bless my soul and body, if you haven't 
scared me out 'n a year's growth ! I feel two inches shorter, 
by Jupiter ! " 

He straightened himself up to a height that showed his 
feelings decidedly at fault with his appearance. 

Edalia felt the wild throbbings of the heart to which she 
was closely held, and lifted her eyes to his. They were bent 
upon her face, and suffused with tears. 

"And you will not meet?" 

"No, Edie; human life is of more value than to be 
lightly perilled, and that, too, by a' false sense of honor. I 
fear not man, but regard Him who has said, 'Thou shalt not 
kill,' and 'Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price;' 
and He alone must be the arbiter of my existence." 

" Good, boy ! That 's logic that can't be gainsaid. The 
veriest dastard will fight to the death, through physical insen- 
sibility, to prove himself what he is n't ; but it requires a 
vast amount of courage to turn from the gage thrown down 
by a burly antagonist, from principles of morality." 

" Colonel Henley, sir, was perfectly well aware of my sen- 
timents with regard to duelling, and, consequently, I felt the 
less hesitation, even in a social sense, in declining his chal- 
lenge." 

" Precisely ; and he the less reluctance in sending it, be- 
yond question. He burnishes his bravery without the help 
of a bullet through his gown. But tell us, boy, the provo- 
cation that conduced to such a result." 

Walter colored and hesitated, but at length replied : 

" Colonel Henley, sir, imputed to me, publicly, designs of 
a mercenary nature upon the hand of a young lady, to which 
I retorted with unjustifiable warmth, unless the high esteem 
in which I hold her, apart from all considerations of a 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 203 

pecuniary character, can be considered a sufficient exten- 
uation." 

" By Jupiter, a woman 's at the bottom of all mischief! " 
ejaculated Mr. Redmond, his eyes sparkling with pleasure. 
" And so Henley 's jealous, eh ?" 

"It is a groundless jealousy, then, sir, for I have never 
presumed upon her hand." 
" But you love her, boy ? " 
Walter was silent. 
"I say?" 

" Differently circumstanced, I would answer you, sir." 
" Differently circumstanced ! " The old gentleman's eyes 
Hashed. " Does the girl reciprocate your feelings ? " 
" I have never questioned her on that point, sir." 
" Boy, a lover's eye is not easily deceived. Does the girl 
love you?" 

" Judging from appearances — yes, sir." 
" Then you fear opposition from her parents ? " 
" No — yes — sir, let us waive the subject." 
" Shan't do it. I 'm bound to dive to the bottom of this 
business, by Jove ! " He walked the room in a heat of ex- 
citement. " If your love is mutual, why do you scruple to 
propose, sir ? " 

" Because, sir, I shall never lay myself liable to the charge 
of cupidity by aspiring to the hand of one so far my supe- 
rior in wealth. You know now, sir, why I ' desire to be rich 
speedily'; and with this knowledge you will offer no further 
opposition to my design." 

u I say I shall, though ; hang your pride ! " 
" It is not so much pride as the peculiar circumstances by 
which I am surrounded." 

" Peculiar circumstances ! " The old gentleman's eyes 
snapped. " What 's the girl worth ? " 
" A thousand worlds." 



204 

" All gammon ! In dollars and cents, I mean, Deuce 
take your rhapsodies!" He perambulated and mused. 
" Boy, you are the possessor of fifty thousand dollars. Will 
that equalize you, in a pecuniary point of view ? " 

"Sir!" 

" I say you are the possessor of fifty thousand dollars." 

" How, sir? I thought — " 

" Am I addicted to speaking unadvisedly ? " 

" No, sir." 

" Then, boy, go and enjoy all that I have ever hoped for 
your mother's son." His voice faltered. 

Walter turned his bright eyes upon Edalia with a joyous 
smile. His face glowed with happiness. He walked firmly 
up and extended his hand. 

" Edie, I have loved you from boyhood — you know how 
fervently. Will you be my Edie — my wijef" 

"I wiU, Walter." 

He folded her closely in his arms with a trembling clasp, 
and laid his flushed face upon her half-hidden forehead. 

Mr. Redmond took them both in his arms, with tears 
trickling down his cheeks. 

" God bless you, children ! You have now realized the 
cherished hopes of years. Boy, this is the happiest moment 
I have known since I held your angel mother as you do my 
niece ! " 

" My mother, sir ? " 

"Your mother, boy. Behold her, and gratify an oft ex- 
pressed desire." 

He drew from his bosom a small, golden locket, and 
touching a spring, revealed the delicate form of a fair 
young girl, in the first flush of womanhood, bearing a 
striking resemblance to him whose arm encircled Edalia. 

A robe of azure-blue draped the slender form ; the plump 
white arms were bare, and a veil of silky ringlets fell 



205 

lightly over the round, fair face and graceful shoulders like 
a soft cloud of golden - hued mist. The large blue eyes 
smiled upon the beholder from under the dark, curved 
fringe, and a faint expression of innocent mirth sat upon the 
small, rosy mouth. 

Walter gazed reverently upon the lovely semblance, and 
gently murmured : 

"Mother:' 

It was the language of the heart. 

The old man paced the floor with an abstracted air. 

"Children, the world laughs at the lone old bachelor, 
and deems him devoid of feeling — destitute of the softer 
sensibilities that are apparent in others of his sex ; but far 
down in the still cloister of the old man's soul lies a folded 
leaf, lettered over with Love's Young Dream, defying the 
mildew of time, and living fresh and warm through all the 
vicissitudes of rolling years. Let the world say what it 
will, ' the heart knoweth its own bitterness,"' and 

1 The wealth of the ocean lies fathoms below 
The surface that sparkles above ! ' " 

He placed the miniature in his bosom with a tremulous 
hand, and with a fervent benediction left the newly be- 
trothed alone. 

" You may read the letter now, Ed," said Mr. Redmond, 
as she kissed him good-night and went up to her chamber! 

Di was soon wandering in dreamland. She opened the 
little case, and drew forth the hidden treasure. Breaking 
the seal, a delicate missive dropped from the envelope 
superscribed by her uncle. Edalia read : 

"Maplb # Hall, June 20, 18— . 
"I am dying, Edward, — slowly, but surely; dying in 
the morning of life, alone and broken-hearted. I go gladly, 



206 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

fearlessly ; for all that rendered life lovely is lost to me 
forever, and I long to flee away and be at rest! 

" But I cannot go down to the dim valley, conscious that 
he, whom I have so loved, deems me false and unworthy of 
the love he gave! No, Edward, though I lie in the dusk of 
the grave, asleep from the anguish of earth, when you learn 
the weight of woe that is wasting my life away, I cannot die 
and let this fatal secret lie buried with me ! 

" Should you ever return from your lone wanderings over 
the wide waters — exiled by my seeming inconstancy — go 
to the silent spot where the hand that indites and the heart 
that dictates lie cold and throbless ; and know, if immu- 
table love, that yielded only to the icy hand of death, to rise 
exultant and eternal in the spirit-land, could render her 
deserving, the pale sleeper beneath is worthy of the tears 
you shed. 

" Ah, that dim, hushed eve, when we stood beneath the 
old maple and watched the mellow moonlight starring the 
still waters, dreaming that life to us could not be less bright 
and sparkling than its silvery surface! You remember, 
Edward, that happy hour? It was the last that I have 
ever known! 

" I parted with you that eve, with the sweet story of your 
whispered love lying, like a blessing, in the sunny fane of 
my youthful heart. That eve ! — it was the last flicker of 
Hope's taper — the last note of the dying swan, the bright- 
est, the sweetest — the last ! 

" I was told that I must resign you, or be considered the 
murderer of my father ! He produced the instrument of 
death, and presented it to his heart ! I yielded, and became 
the wife of Mr. Eldon. Though conscious of my absorbing 
love for another, he made me a perjurer at the holy altar! 
I have endeavored to perform the duties of a wife ; but my 
soul was wedded to you, Edward, that blue, starry night; 
and the vow I uttered was recorded by angel hands upon the 
scroll of immortality. 

" My father sleeps now beneath the old willow, where 
they laid my loved mother long years ago ; and my hus- 
band is — I cannot write it ! 

" My sweet babe — my little Walter Edward — will soon 
be motherless. Should he ever be fatherless, oh, Edward, 



207 

by the memory of our young and happy years, guard his 
infancy, guide his youth, and counsel his manhood. 

"To your sister, my dear Edalia, I intrust this plea for 
my lovely babe. I could die tranquil, could I place him 
in your arms, and know you will cherish my little, lone 
bud — for his father is cold and indifferent ! 

" And now, Edward, dear Edward, farewell. I have 
loved thee on Earth; meet me in Heaven. 

"In spirit, your Eva." 

And this was the history of the young sleeper in the 
silent church-yard — the secret story of the old man's un- 
wedded life. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 



HORACE STANHOPE RISKS HIS LIBERTY TO TEST HIS 
POWER. — ENVY REJOICES AT CALAMITY. 

BERTHA ! " 
She turned at the sound. Horace Stanhope stood at 
the gate, looking up at the window, with one of his sunniest 
smiles. 

"Come, dear; it is growing late." 

Bertha left the window, with a queer compression of the 
small mouth, and went down to the " repentant sinner." A 
shade of concern displaced the sunny smile, as she ap- 
proached him, without preparation for gratifying his wish. 

" You commanded me to ' stay ' when I came home." 
The face was very sober, but something in the eyes cheered 
him. 

" Pooh ! You know I did n't mean it. I can't live with- 
out you, you witch ! Run for your bonnet — quick ! " 



208 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"We must have an understanding before I go, Horace. 
Will you object to my coming again?" 

Stanhope looked puzzled and vexed. He knew he was at 
her mercy, and dared not refuse then. In the height of 
passion he had informed her the law would sustain him in 
prohibiting her return home ; but Horace Stanhope was 
well aware of the fact that such a proceeding would very 
speedily subject him to "lynch law" in that community. 
He had received hints to that effect in the past. Bertha's 
pity was his protection. 

"I will not object, when it is advisable," he said, stingily. 

" That won't do, Mr. Stanhope. I must have the privi- 
lege, without reproof, of coming home at any time. I have 
a child's and a sister's heart, and I will not cousent to tor- 
ture it, and punish those who love me simply for your re- 
venge, in the future. It were far better to live apart, in 
peace, than together, in confusion and misery. Now that I 
am at home, I will ' stay,' unless you promise to offer no 
further opposition." 

She looked very beautiful and sweetly innocent, with her 
earnest face and rich brown, soul-full eyes, reproving his 
tyrannical spirit, as her little golden-brown head bent to- 
ward him over the low gate. 

Horace Stanhope's impulsiveness got the better of his 
spite for a moment. He stooped quickly and kissed the 
small, red mouth. 

"There, I promise, you torment! Now run for your 
bonnet." 

It was such little flashes of golden light, revealing a better 
nature, that kept the night of hopelessness from closing 
around our heroine. While there was a spot of blue and a 
sunbeam in her horizon, she could not wholly freeze toward 
him. Horace Stanhope knew his power, and the material it 
was exerted upon. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 209 

" I '11 come to-morrow, ma," she said, as she turned from 
the bedside of Mrs. Belmont. 

"She '11 do it, sure 's you're born," laughed the old man, 
as Bertha's footsteps died upon the stairs. " She looks hard 
as the rock of Gibraltar, by George ! " 

" She 's had enough to harden her, poor child ! " returned 
the mother, with a sigh. 

" I 'd like to hear the rascal fume when he gets her caged 
again ! " growled Claude, clenching his hand ; " and I 'd 
like a dog sight better to bring my fist chuck against his 
green eyes — so ! " and the mantel rang beneath the blow 
aimed at it by the indignant brother. 

" Hello, bub ! " sniggered Mr. Belmont ; " don't spoil the 
paint and varnish, but never mind your. fist, my boy." 

Horace Stanhope drew his wife down upon his knee when 
she was safely shut in with him from the world again, and 
question after question was propounded, until all that had 
transpired in her absence was rehearsed in his jealous ear, 
with insinuations relative to the suppression of the most 
important items, at the close, on the part of the eager, invid- 
ious listener. The accusation of untruthfulness was then 
boldly hurled in her sober face, respecting her promise with 
reference to Harry Herbert. 

Bertha's reply has been recorded, and Horace Stanhope 
felt the force of it and knew he must surrender at discretion. 
His tyrannical soul writhed with a feeling sense of his pow- 
erlessness to coerce her from further performance of filial 
duty, and his base and blind spirit resorted to a fatal expe- 
dient. 

Without apparent design of personal violence, he dis- 
played a weapon on an occasion of renewed jealousy, hoping 
to intimidate, without menaces, and subject her to his will 
through fear. Horace Stanhope was so cowardly himself, 
18* 



210 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

he fancied he could swerve her from the right by secret 
apprehensions of sudden death. 

Bertha looked steadily in his wrathful eyes, and it pro- 
duced the effect that an unflinching gaze would upon a 
maniac. He subsided quietly, and appropriated the weapon 
to a purpose obviously his original design, but he retained 
the instrument in his chamber. 

Our heroine was physically weak, though morally strong, 
and she averted her face to conceal its expression when her 
momentary firmness had passed. Horace Stanhope never 
knew the effect of his dastardly experiment, but he felt the 
consequences. 

Bertha went home when morning dawned, and she never 
returned to that chamber again. Without either love or 
respect, and now impressed with the secret belief of an im- 
perilled existence, she could no longer dwell beneath the 
same roof with Horace Stanhope. 

He went for her when " night dropped her sable curtain 
down and pinned it with a star," but a servant was the only 
answer to his call. Horace Stanhope returned to his lonely 
room — made lonely by his own wicked and unmanly 
spirit — hot with wrath and white with mortal fear. He 
felt he had sealed his fate, and deeply imprecated his pur- 
blind folly. His pillow was soaked with tears when morn- 
ing dawned, for Horace Stanhope was miserable without his 
patient, oppressed Wife, and proved his faith in her fidelity 
by yearning eagerness to regain her when she had slipped 
from his grasp through his own treachery and unendurable 
tyranny. 

Bertha declined to answer his repeated calls and returned 
his letters unopened, and Horace Stanhope soon fled from 
Williamsville, before the fear of being imprisoned. 

The sequel showed he had been doing business "on trust" 
for the firm of " Cooley & Co.," through the influence of his 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 211 

city brothers; and the goods sold under his own name were 
''tied up" from other creditors. He had become involved 
upon his own responsibility in Williamsville, and after 
Bertha's desertion his creditors would have pounced upon 
him, had he not "beat a hasty retreat." 

Bertha was once more left to quiet repose, believing she 
would not be disturbed again by his return under the cir- 
cumstance. 

But ere the summer w T as ended, Horace Stanhope was 
again in Williamsville, and a prisoner for debt! He had 
risked his liberty to test his power with the hope of melting 
her heart to sympathy for his unfortunate fate. 

Bertha was vanquished by this event. She received his 
letters, and comforted him with a reply. She was not 
strong enough to resist the supplications of one in his 
situation. 

Horace Stanhope lingered in Williamsville after his 
term of imprisonment had expired. He solemnly vowed 
he would not depart, until she had granted him one inter- 
view. 

"It can do no harm," she said to her mother, and, to 
hasten his departure, Mrs. Belmont assented. 

The consequence was, our heroine went out from the home- 
roof one day, and was drawn by Horace Stanhope, half re- 
sisting and wholly in tears, through the little yard-gate — 
and Bertha never stood beneath that old, loved roof again ! 

Horace Stanhope had never looked so handsome, and 
tenderly repentant, as when he exerted all his powers to 
accomplish the purpose for which he had returned. 

" I will die at your feet before I will leave you, Bertha," 
he said, piteously, " for life will be valueless without you. 
I have suffered enough for the past to be wiser and better in 
future. Go with me to my home, and, so help me God, you 
shall never repent your confidence ! " 



212 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Oh, I can not, can not ! " she cried, in agony. " If we 
cannot live peaceably here, I have no hope of happiness 
away. You will forget your promise in the future, Horace, 
as you have done in the past, and I shall be friendless in a 
strange land." 

" Dear, try me and see ! You have relations in New 
York, and my brothers long to welcome you to their homes. 
Trust me once more, Bertha, and if you are not content, I 
will return you to your home, and never trouble you again 
— so help me God ! " 

" I will trust you again here, Horace," she sobbed ; " but, 
oh, I can not go so far aw T ay — it would kill my poor 
mother! You promised her you w T ould never take me from 
my home ! " 

" Dear, I could not foresee what would occur to render 
it necessary. I w r ould remain now for your sake, if there 
were any prospect of success in business ; but all are my 
enemies, because I have triumphed over them in winning 
you (he could resort to flattery now ! ) They w T ish to drive 
me away, and divorce you — I have heard it ! " 

" I shall never be divorced — I scorn the thought ! " she 
said, indignantly. " And besides, if I desired it, it could 
not be obtained. Our State laws are not so liberal as 
some." 

" It could be obtained in a few years, if I remain away, 
Bertha." 

" If I am ever divorced, it will be by your act, Horace, — 
rest assured of that. And even were I free now by law of 
man, I should never marry again while you live — a higher 
law forbids it." 

Horace Stanhope's eyes sparkled with exultation a mo- 
ment ; then he thought she might be induced, by future 
arguments, to compromise with her conscience. He renewed 
his humble entreaties and solemn penitential promises, and 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 213 

bo wrought upon her weakness and sympathy that, in a 
moment of forgetfulness of all the past, he drew her through 
the little yard-gate; and when Mr. Belmont and Claude 
returned to their home, the old house was desolate and 
dripping with tears. 

" Poor, deluded child ! " said Mr. Bagby, a warm friend 
of the family. " A rope of sand is stronger than Stanhope's 
honor." 

" She 's weak as dish - water — let her take the con- 
sequences ! " exclaimed Dr. Watson, a young bachelor and 
old-time admirer of our heroine — now highly indignant 
and snappish. 

"She married him; let her stick to 'im through thick 
and thin ! " growled Mr. Smithson, an old gray-headed 
bachelor. " Them 's my sentiments ! " he snarled, with 
half angry eyes. 

" I 'm glad she 's gone ! " whispered blue - eyed Miss 
Evelyn to her confidante, who subsequently betrayed her. 
" Now there '11 be some chance for the rest of us ! She was 
in the way before her marriage with that good-for-nothing 
Yankee ; and I 've heard some rumor of a divorce." 

And so it ran. The quiet town of Williamsville was all 
alive with the startling news of our heroine's departure for 
New York "with that Yankee rascal Stanhope"; and 
" Bertha the Beauty " was almost universally censured for 
her " foolish faith." 

Harry Herbert listened quietly, with white face and 
firmly set lips, to the remarks of the indignant citizens, but 
made no comment. Then he went down to Mr. Belmont's, 
and condoled with the bereaved family. 



214 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY, 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

HORACE STANHOPE'S ANTECEDENTS. — ALONZO's 
OPINION OF BERTHA. 

HANNAH STANHOPE sat in a vine-covered portico, 
in the beautiful town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, with 
the red rays of an August sunset kissing the cheek of de- 
parting day to a deeper blush. 

Hannah was musing and evidently watching for some one 
through the flowering vines. She was not handsome, but 
had an amiable, inviting face. Her kind heart kindled in 
her mild eyes at every breath that touched her sensitive ear. 
She was not handsome now, but might have been, in early 
womanhood ; but the freshness and bloom of youth were 
gone from her mature and chastened face. 

She had buried three children in little green graves, and 
was alone now, and as she sat, in that rosy August eve, her 
sober blue eyes peered through the vine-leaves to catch a 
glimpse of the coming husband and father from the sultry 
city of Gotham. 

Hannah's history was romantic. In early youth she had 
loved Alonzo Stanhope, but her father refused to receive 
him as a son-in-law. Hannah was an obedient child, and 
declined to marry, without her father's sanction, until she 
attained her majority. 

Alonzo Stanhope left her, angered by her firm adhesion 
to principle, and emigrated to Tennessee. He there mar- 
ried a Southern wife and became the father of three chil- 
dren. Hannah heard of his inconstancy, and it wrung her 
faithful heart ; but she lived on, through long years of sin- 
gle blessedness, with a fair prospect, considering her many 
rejected suitors, of dying an old maid. 



BEAUTY. 215 

Alonzo Stanhope buried his wife and children in Tennes- 
- . when Hannah Goodrich had attained the age of twenty- 
seven, and returned to his early home, a childless widower. 
He renewed his suit to faithful Hannah, and, despite her 
father's still existing opposition, they were married. 

Mr. Goodrich finally became reconciled to his daughter's 
marriage with Alonzo Stanhope; — he proved to be more 
worthy of Hannah's affection than her father had antici- 
pated. 

Mr. Stanhope, senior, was a wealthy citizen of Lenox, 
Massachusetts, when his children — eight sons and two 
daughters — were born ; but disobeying the commandment 
" Be not thou one of them that are sureties for debt," he 
was reduced, by a friend's failure in business affairs, from 
affluence to comparative poverty 

Hence his children were indifferently educated, and, as 
they grew up, settled down to a clod-hopping life, with no 
ambition beyond milch-cows and market-butter. 

Alonzo, Allyn, and Horace were the exceptions. They 
broke away from the "farms," and escaped to the great 
iniquitous city of Gotham, and acquired the polish that 
contact with refined society affords. 

Alonzo and Allyn were sober, self-sacrificing, and perse- 
vering men, and, consequently, successful adventurers upon 
the capricious sea of fortune ; but Horace's natural indo- 
lence, self-indulgence, and restless temperament kept him 
continually under the wheel. He had no strength of char- 
acter, and drifted lazily down the stream to dependence and 
contempt, without an effort to beat against the waves and 
secure confidence and respect. He had no moral strength, 
that renders one worthy the esteem of his fellows, but in the 
pursuit of that which would gratify hi3 sensual nature his 
perseverance was surprising — he had no superior. His sole 
dependence for the future was upon his handsome face and 



216 

graceful form. He soon wearied of the monotony and labor 
of displaying dry -goods to fastidious customers. He would 
go South and marry a girl with five hundred negroes and 
boundless acres. 

Horace Stanhope's purse became depleted, through his 
prodigal propensities, before he crossed the line of Mason 
and Dixon. He was an elegant penman, and his wits soon 
replenished his purse. He gave lessons to a select few in 
the fine art of chirography, plainly intimating it was from 
a spirit of romance, and not from necessity. His charge for 
the great condescension was aristocratic. He succeeded 
admirably. 

Bertha Belmont's evil genius led Horace Stanhope to 
Williamsville the same week of her father's return to her 
native town. She met him, the first Sabbath after her 
arrival, in an evening walk. His sensual soul was fired 
by her rare beauty and native innocence. He watched 
her to her home, and the following day he succeeded in 
obtaining an introduction into it, with a proposition to Mr. 
Belmont to receive his daughter as an "honorary member " 
of the select class he was forming; to which Mr. Belmont 
assented, and entered Claude as a paying pupil through 
partiality for his own people. 

Thus commenced an acquaintance that eventually proved 
fatal to the peace of all parties. 

Horace Stanhope's design in securing " Bertha the Beauty '' 
as an "honorary member" very speedily became manifest. 
His devotion to her became the town-talk. The belles en- 
vied her, and the beaux him. They were a well-matched 
pair, for beauty and grace. Mr. Belmont favored his suit, 
and threw impediments in the way of other- admirers. 
Claude was wholly won by the charming and artful lover, 
and reproved his sister for her lack of appreciation. In an 
evil hour Bertha yielded, and sealed her late ! 



217 

In marrying Bertha, Horace Stanhope had fallen very Par 
Bhort of "five hundred negroes and boundless acres," but 
pride and passion must be gratified at any cost. It was well 
worth a sacrifice to triumph over so many competitors for 
tho beautiful prize, and then, his heart was involved. 
Horace Stanhope acknowledged he had never loved till 
now. 

Besides, Mr. Belmont was in easy circumstances, and even 
It a pecuniary point of view it wouldn't be a bad bargain. 
I Be very readily promised never to take Bertha from her 
home, for then he would not be necessitated to exert him- 
self for her support. He was nothing loth to be relieved of 
that responsibility. 

Horace Stanhope was content to remain in idleness under 
his father-in-law's roof, until he was established in business 
upon capital advanced by the disappointed old man, who 
finally cast him out in disgust, as a dishonest, green-eyed, 
graceless adventurer. 

Hannah Stanhope's blue eyes brightened, as she peered 
through the vine -leaves. He was coming; she distin- 
guished his familiar form through the deepening dusk. 

She went soberly forward, and met his extended hand. 
There were no manifestations of deep feeling in that quiet 
greeting ; and yet she loved him far more than he was 
capable of feeling affection. Hannah knew that, yet she 
Dever betrayed it in words or seeming. 

They sat down in the fragrant portico. 

" Horace has come," he said, soberly. 

" And his wife ? " 

"Yes — at last!" 

" Is she as beautiful as she has been represented? " 

"Even more! There is a soul-loveliness that no artist 
can paint. Bertha possesses it ; and you must see her, to 
comprehend all her charms. A lovelier woman never met 
19 



218 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

a luckless fate ! Horace borrowed money of a stranger on 
his way up to defray their expenses to New York, and called 
on me for the amount to repay the debt ! I declined the 
honor, and he 's dodging around in the city to avoid his 
creditor. He grows worse daily." 

" My dear ! Should n't have thought a stranger would 
lend." 

" He 's from "Washington, North Carolina, on a summer 
visit to Saratoga and the Lakes ; and I 've no doubt, pity 
for Bertha induced the loan. His sister is with him, and 
the two girls (for Bertha is a mere child in appearance) 
formed quite a friendship during the journey. They all 
stopped at Old Point a week — Horace nourishing on bor- 
rowed funds, and Bertha ignorant of the fact. She knows 
it now though, and the knowledge hurts her." 

" What on earth will become of that fellow, 'Lonzo ? " 

" Lord knows ! He 's now at a private boarding-house on 
Greenwich Street, without any prospect of being able to 
pay. He 's coming up to Berkshire next week, to sponge on 
his relations, if he can manage to slip off from his land- 
lady ! " 

" Dear, dear, what a worthless man ! " 

" He 's no man — he'sa twenty-five year old boy; and a 
dreadfully dishonest one at that ! " 

" I wonder his wife followed him ! " 

" I do. He says he ' stole her away from the old codger/ 
Cooley says, you know, the Belmonts hate him like poison ; 
and I don't believe Bertha loves him, from the look she 
gave him when the borrowed money business was exposed. 
I don't understand it — it passes my powers of comprehen- 
sion. I pity the girl." 

" Why on earth don't he go to work, and earn a living?" 

" That 's it ! He makes money enough when he tries, but 
it's sooner gone than made; and where it goes to, the deuce 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 219 

only knows! He ought to have had enough to carry him 
to Carolina and back with his wife, with the salary Allyn 
paid him before he left. And now the dog won't work. 
There 's no vacancy in Allyn's store now, and last week I 
got him into a grocery establishment; but the fellow threw 
it up in a day. I guess, Til have to support him, when we 
return to the city — so long as that poor child remains with 
him. I won't see her suffer — that 's flat ! " 

" I guess she won't stay long, if she 's honorable." 
" I guess you 'd think she was honorable, if you 'd seen 
her indignant, scornful face (I can't call it by any other 
name ! ) when that borrowed money business came to light. 
I thought the blood w 7 ould come through her cheeks, and 
her eyes flashed like lightning — and such a curl of that 
little red mouth! /should have been extinguished, if I'd 
stood in his shoes; but Horace coolly excused himself, by 
saying ' it was for her sake.' The fellow has a surprisingly 
hard cheek ! " 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 



LOR' bless yer heart, honey ! I never seed sich a nice 
cake 'fore. I named it Mars Wallie, an' it 's riz an' 
sponged up just as good as kin be ! Dat shows 'is dispersi- 
tion. I oilers knowed it, honey ; for 'e 's pine blank like 'is 
ma, in an' out — bless his blue eyes ! 

"An' you's gwine ter have 'im at las,' honey — he, he! 
I knowed when de snail rit in de plate, 't was boun' ter be ; 
kase snails never failed yit — bless 'em ! I gwine ter eat 
some cake ter-morrer night — 'deed I is so ! Lor' bless yer 



220 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY 



heart, chile, dare ain't a gladder nigger dis side o' heaben 
dan ole Aunt Cory, dis niinnet ! Jes' tack dem turkey 
wings 'tween my shoul'ers, honey, an' I'll fly 'way home ! — 
An' Miss Bert 's cornin', too, honey; dat's — " 

" ]S"o, aunty ; Bertha will not come." 

" Wha — wa — what fur, chile ? " 

"Bertha is gone! — gone to New York with that Stan- 
hope ! " 

" Lordy, massy, honey ! You don' se' so, chile ! " 

" Peter is just up from Williamsville, and brings the sad 
news. She left two weeks ago, and that is why I failed to 
receive her expected letter. Mr. Belmont's family is nearly 
deranged, and the whole town is in a ferment." 

" Massy on us, chile ! What made 'er done go for?" 

"Stanhope half stole, half forced her away. Mr. Bel- 
mont and Claude were absent, or the mean Yankee jail-bird 
would not have ventured near her home." 

" Good maister, honey ! why did n't da take 'er 'way 
frum 'im ? " 

" The law forbade, when she was in his power. Claude 
— poor boy! — returned before they had left town. He 
watched his opportunity, and would speak to Bertha before 
she was taken away. They say it almost broke her heart. 
She screamed and clung to him, and would, no doubt, have 
run away home ; but Stanhope held her firmly around the 
waist with both arms — the wretch ! He forced her away 
from Claude, and lifted her into the carriage, half wild with 
grief." 

"Po' thing! po' thing! I '11 never see 'er no more now, 
honey, fur shore!" groaned Aunt Cora, over the wedding- 
cake, as she drew her check apron hastily over her eyes. 
"Dat's what da got fur makin 'er have 'im!" she growled, 
presently. " Good 'miff fur 'em, ef 't were n't fur her — po' 
thins !" 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 221 

"Yes, aunty ; they repent in sackcloth and ashes — now 
that it is too late. If parents would leave their children to 
make their own choice of a life-partner, there 'd be fewer 
unhappy marriages. Old people are not proper persons to 
select for the young — just as though a young heart could 
be moulded by old hands! I don't pity him, — he richly 
merits what he 's got, and so thinks the community in which 
he lives ; but Mrs. Belmont is an object of sympathy. It 
is thought she will lose her mind." 

" My lord, chile ! dat 's worse 'n all — po' thing ! po* 
thing ! " 

Edalia left the old woman groaning over the tray, the 
delight, in anticipation of the convivialities of " ter-morrer 
night," all gone from her sympathizing heart, and entered 
the " great house." 

A knock at the door summoned Di, and Mr. Wilmer was 
announced. At his request, Edalia called her uncle and 
Walter from the office. 

Mr. Redmond welcomed the visitor cordially, but Edalia 
observed the peculiar expression that invariably marked 
his features in the presence of Mr. Wilmer. 

" I have learned," commenced Mr. Wilmer, "that a union 
of the Redmond and Eldon races is on the eve of consum- 
mation, and though it may seem impertinent, under circum- 
stances as they now appear to exist, to you, yet I desire to 
ask, have I been correctly informed ? " 

" You have, sir," returned Mr. Redmond, with pale lips 
and agitated tone. 

Mr. Wilmer sprang up and advanced toward the old 
man. 

" And will you bestow your wealth and the hand of your 
niece on the penniless son of him who has wronged you 
beyond reparation, and the grandson of him who has ren- 
dered your life lonely and unblest by the nearest and dear- 
19* 



222 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

est of earthly ties through avarice and unparalleled parental 
stoicism ? " 

" I have, sir." 

Walter sprang up. 

" Penniless ! You have hitherto evaded my inquiries 
relative to this subject, sir, but I thought — " 

" Boy," interrupted Mr. Redmond, " you are my adopted 
son.'" 

Walter dropped down beside Edalia with a troubled air. 

Mr. Wilmer turned and confronted the young man. 

" What did you think ? It may be to your advantage to 
answer me freely." 

" That I was not a penniless aspirer to this hand, sir; that, 
notwithstanding all his unmerited care and kindness from 
infancy to mature years, I was asking all he has to bestow ! " 

"You are not a penniless aspirer to that hand, sir. You 
are the son of a wealthy and repentant man. Boy, I am 
Wilmer Eldon — your father ! " 

He threw off the dark tresses that hid his gray locks as 
he spoke. 

Mr. Redmond shrank back and covered his face with his 
hands, and Walter sprang to his father's embrace. The old 
man bowed his head upon his boy's shoulder, and, like re- 
pentant Peter, he " wept bitterly." 

Mr. Eldon advanced towards Mr. Redmond. 

" Edward, it is written, ' If you forgive not men their 
trespasses, neither will your father in heaven forgive your 
trespasses.' I can never repair the wrong I have done you, 
but will you forgive that wrong ? " 

Mr. Redmond grasped his extended hand, and the old 
pleasantry returned to his moist eyes and placid mouth. 

They gathered around the long-lost, to hear the story of 
years that were gone. It ran : 

il \ left the scene of my ruin and wretchedness, a reckless 






BEAUTY. 223 

and hopeless man. God only knows how fondly I loved 
her, to obtain whom I compromised my honor and manhood. 
I inveigled her father into a pecuniary obligation, and de- 
manded his daughter as an equivalent — a work of super- 
erogation, for he was but too ready to sacrifice her at the 
shrine of his god — gold. 

" I thought to win her by unwearied care and devotion ; 
but though ever gentle and irreproachable in demeanor, 
her young face, that grew w 7 hiter and thinner day by day, 
drove me to madness and the wine-cup. I became cruel and 
tyrannical. Our child was my aversion, for it was wor- 
shipped by the heart that was closed upon its father. 

" With her died all my hopes. I plunged deeper into 
dissipation, and the gaming-table completed my ruin. 

" I fled in despair, and left my helpless boy to the tender 
mercies of chance. 

" Years passed away, and I wedded again — a fair young 
girl, who gave me her whole heart; and for a time I forgot, 
in her love, my former degradation and misery. But a 
change came and I fell, to rise too late to retrieve all that 
was lost ! 

" But you know all that. Months ago, I told you, when 
I stood before you, after the lapse of many years, in the 
character of a Temperance Lecturer. Temperance ! it has 
been my salvation ! In an hour when the good angel 
wrestled and prevailed, I pledged myself to total abstinence 
from the 'enemy that steals away the brain;' — and from 
that hour I have been a reformed man. 

11 1 remembered my poor lone boy, and to make some 
amends for the past I went to the land of gold. I succeeded 
beyond my expectations, and turned my steps homeward. 
A spirit of romance came over me, and I assumed a stranger- 
guise. I watched you narrowly, and soon found that my 
boy and your girl were destined to make us forget past 



224 

enmity, by a union of names and fortunes; for I knew you 
too well to doubt your consent, on the ground of pecuniary 
considerations. I waited the result, and it has come." 

Mr. Redmond started up, buoyantly. 

" By Jove, it was the 'leventh hour ! I saw what the 
mischief was, and had to practise deception upon the young 
gentleman's credulity, or the end would not have been yet! 
The boy a as proud as Lucifer ! — hanged if he ain't, by 
Jupiter ! " 

Aunt Cora forgot, for a time, her great grief for " Miss 
Bert's " absence, over the glorious news of " Mars Wallie's 
good luck ; " and little Dick turned a glad somerset as 
he pitched out of the kitchen-door on a brisk run for the 
parlor, " to git a good look through de crack at Mars Wal- 
lie's bran-new pa ! " 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 



CHUSETTS. 

IT was a sober, sweet September evening — Martha Stan, 
hope called it " afternoon," as she parted with a neigh- 
bor at the kitchen-door. 

Silas was shelling corn for the pig, and " Newt " was kill- 
ing flies on the red cow, when the stopping of a carriage at 
the door aroused all parties. 

" I swan, if there ain't Horace ! " said Silas, in a shiver. 

" Good land ! — and his wife ! " exclaimed Martha, under 
her breath. 

u Where 's my new trousers, mother ? " whispered "Newt," 
springing in from the cow-pen in a flutter. 



225 

Newt was twelve years of age, and was beginning to feel 
manly ; besides, he had caught a glimpse of Bertha's beau- 
tiful face, and felt a sudden impulse to look as well himself 
as circumstances would allow. 

"Git eout, yeou!" said Martha, giving her boy a poke 
with her nervous hand — " 't ain't Sunday ! " 

Newt sniffed, notwithstanding his manhood ; but curiosity 
got the better of his indignation. He crawled over Martha's 
bed, and peered through the small window at the descend- 
ing stranger — his "Southern aunt." 

" A-i-n'-t she a beauty, mother ! Jiminy criminy — " 

"Hush that!" commanded Martha, tying on a clean 
apron with all speed. "I want yeou should stop swearin' 
or I'll—" 

"Golly! that ain't swearin', mother — he-aw ! Deacon 
Smith says it." 

"Deacon Smith ain't no better 'n he should be, then! 
Don't yeou let me catch yeou talkin' after Deacon Smith 
so fash!" 

Silas jerked on his coat, in honor of a stranger's arrival, 
and met his visitors at the gate, with a little timidity per- 
ceptible in his sun-burnt face. 

" Wall, neow, I be rale glad tew see ye, Horace, and — " 
he glanced modestly at our heroine. 

" My wife, brother Silas, — your sister Bertha." 

" How d'ye c/o," said Silas, taking the little hand with a 
grip that was pleasant when he let it go — "I swan tew man 
if I ain't pleased tew see ye at larst ! 'Lonzo said yeou 'd 
be along our way some time, but we 'd a'most give up hopin'. 
Come in an' rest, won't ye ? Guess yeou 're abeout tuckered 
eout, ben'tye?" 

Bertha looked at Horace with silent wonder. She had 
never heard the Yankee language spoken to perfection 
before. 

P 



226 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Horace's handsome mouth dropped on one side with 
amusement, as he looked at her, and followed Silas into the 
" keepin'-room." 

Martha's greeting was quite as cordial as her lord's, with 
less timidity. She was a genuine, whole-hearted, home- 
made woman ; and Bertha felt her goodness at a glance. 
Her home-sickness wore away in Martha's presence. 

Our heroine w T ould have taken more to Silas, but for his 
bare feet — the sight of them repelled her by the vulgarity 
of the display. 

But Bertha learned to feel more kindly towards her new 
brother-in-law during their three weeks' stay under his hum- 
ble roof. His kind heart drew her irresistibly towards him, 
despite his plebeian appearance and amusing style of address. 

Little Martha, the eldest girl, of four summers, crept 
timidly up behind our heroine's chair, and softly kissed the 
cheek of " Aunt Berta." 

Bertha drew the shy but loving little creature upon her 
lap, and pressed her lips upon the modest little mouth, 
entering into a conversation with the timid thing with such 
familiarity and interest that the child's warm heart was 
very speedily and effectually won. 

She crept back into the kitchen, w T here poor Newt was 
skulking in dirty clothes, and clapped her bits of hands 
gleefully, exclaiming : 

" I dooz love Aunt Berta — I dooz ! I ben't one bit 
'feard of 'er now, Newt — goody ! " 

" Where 's Newton ? " inquired Horace, w T hen the younger 
children had all paid their respects to the visitors. 

Martha laughed, shutting her eyes so tightly during the 
process, that Bertha's orbs twinkled. 

" Newt 's ashamed tew let his new aunt see him without 
his Sunday go-tew-meetin's on ! I guess his pride '11 be his 
pizen, ef he lives long ! " 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 227 

Horace slipped into the kitchen, and dragged Newt from 
under the bed and into the " keepin'-room," blushing like 
a peony in the presence of the Southern stranger. Tears of 
mortification stood in his youthful eyes. 

Bertha took his little hard hand and kissed his boyish 
mouth so kindly, smoothing his young crown so familiarly, 
that Newt looked up in astonishment. His awkwardness 
wore away gradually, until the bright boy evidently forgot 
his work-clothes in listening to and admiring his "beautiful 
and good-hearted new aunt." 

Our heroine's eyes wandered over the supper-table with 
quick but suppressed surprise. Pickles and pork, potatoes 
and pies, custard and cake, coffee and tea, were all there! 
And Bertha observed that the family removed the pickles 
with their fingers ! She w 7 ondered if they w r ould the pork, 
and was gratified to find the Southern style was practised 
in that respect — but she made no comments. She avoided 
carefully all remarks that might have a tendency to hurt 
Horace, or annoy his friends. 

She looked around at the high mountains shutting her in 
from the world, and requested Horace to point out the 
South. Then her yearning gaze went off in that direction, 
and her aching heart climbed over the tall rocks, and stood 
silently in her dear, old, deserted home. 

What had she suffered since she left that home! How 
had she been disappointed and shamed by the discovery of 
a new trait in her husband's character — him, for whom 
she had left all, and followed to a strange land ! 

But Bertha did not know all then. She was not aware 
of the humiliating fact that their board was unpaid on 
Greenwich Street ; that their landlady had suffered Horace 
Stanhope to leave her house without cancelling his debt, 
glad to get rid of him on such easy terms ! The poor widow 
was quite loth to trust him for a longer stay, and relied 



223 

upon his city brothers for indemnification for 

nly knew Bhe had to go supperless up the Hudson, 

i, as Horace had only means to pay their 
rkshire, • of board : and how he ob- 

tained that she never knew. She had casually learned his 

l to her Carolina friend, and shame and di- 
crirnsoned her cheeks, and curled her expressive lips. 

But Bertha mad plaint and uttered no word of 

reproach. He was kind to her, and she would test him to 
the furthest extent of patience and forbearance. 

B -una called him kind, because he had uttered no profane 
word in a towering passion, and shed tears in a state of after 
repentance. But Bertha knew t". _ - - yet in its 

nest, neither killed nor scotched. It had reared its reptile 
head and hissed threateningly on several occasions, sine 
left her home, notwithstanding she had left all to follow him! 

Her Carolina friend had come in for a good share of his 
Bnakeship'fl spite; and Horace had abandoned Old Point 
Comfort a day in advance of his benefactor, to avoid his 
further gallantry towards his lovely young wife ! Bertha 
found there was neither gratitude nor spark of sensibility 
in Horace Stanhope's nature, when she learned the im] 
tion deliberately practised upon his kind and magnanimous 
Carolina friend. 

Why had he molested her in her peaceful and plenteous 
borne, and half forced her away from tender relatives and 
faithful friends, if he had not the means necessary to defray 
her expenses to his own land, and furnish her with food, 
when there? 

AVas that love, which deprived the object of every comfort 
of life, and held it in bands of tyranny, subject to its own 
selfish and arbitrary will? 

Bertha was growing sceptical of Horace Stanhope's love. 
that he had her away from the home-roof, he ma<!' 



BEAUTY. 229 

effort to keep up the appearance of honesty and industry 
for their support, and playfully ridiculed her conscientious 
scruples relative to his dishonest course. 

Bertha found Horace Stanhope was content to live upon 
others' bounty, without any exertions of his own. He had 
refused a situation in New York simply because it was too 
laborious, and took him several squares from her during the 
day. He had, heretofore, had her beneath the same roof of 
his business establishment, or so near that he could watch 
her from the window. 

Mr. Belmont had erected a store in his yard for the de- 
voted young husband's accommodation, and Bertha never 
left her home, or received a call, but Horace Stanhope was 
close at hand. 

Now that she was wholly in his power, as he imagined, 
(for- Horace Stanhopte deemed his frail, leaning wife incapa- 
ble of strong and secret efforts to liberate herself from bond- 
age,) Hume and Voltaire revived, in all their fearful force, 
in his spirit, and Bertha shrank, shudderingly, from the 
infidel principles. 

How unlike the pious sentiments he had penned a few 
weeks ago, when he was at her mercy and had an ob^ct to 
accomplish. Now she was in his power, and the mask was 
no longer needed, and Horace Stanhope dropped it as an 
incumbrance. 

He said, shamelessly, "his great love for her had induced 

him to make a virtue of necessity, knowing her Puritan 

principles; and he was none the worse for his faith; he loved 

her with his belief, and she did not love him with hers ! 

He had not perjured himself at the bridal altar, but she 

had ! Which was the better of the two? He was just as 

God made him — couldn't make himself otherwise; and he 

was not responsible for his actions or belief! " 

Bertha discovered he had veered from infidelity to Uni- 
l>0 J 



230 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

versa] ism — converted, no doubt, under the eloquent ora- 
tions of that popular champion of salvation for rogues — 
Chapin ! 

She wondered if he would not be proselyted to the true 
faith under the political preachings of that highly-gifted and 
higher-salaried popular favorite — Henry Ward Beecher. 

But Bertha did not attempt to combat his faith; she 
knew her impotence, and endured his mingled mirth and 
sarcasm in silence, veiling her eyes to hide their spirit-fire. 

Twice they had been separated, each time under different 
circumstances ; twice she had trusted and hoped. The third 
time would be fatal. Now that she had ventured all, she 
would bear and forbear, so long as bearing and forbearing 
was a duty and a virtue. 

Horace Stanhope fancied her utterly helpless in his grasp. 
He guarded her all day long, and knew she had no friends 
at command. He insisted upon reading her letters home, and 
never allowed her to have the first perusal of one from her 
friends ; Bertha invariably received them with broken seals. 

He kept her in ignorance of her city relatives, and Bertha 
left New York for Massachusetts without the knowledge of 
their locality. 

And now, as she stood, with longing gaze going up the 
black sides of the granite mountains that shut her in from 
all she loved best, and whose lives were bound up in hers, 
memory was active, and the face looked over the lonely hills 
from the sweet South, and deepened her distress. 

Bertha never saw that face distinctly, only in her darkest 
hours of yearning and remorse. It grew faint in the sun- 
shine, but full in the shade. It was a living reproach for 
the weakness of the past. 

Horace Stanhope's keen eyes saw the shadow deepening 
in her homeward gaze, and a fierce light gleamed from the 
green orbs. 



BEAUTY. 231 

" She was grieving for her old lovers," he said, as he drew 
her away, and then kissed the small mouth, with the manly 
assurance that " it was only in fun," when he saw moisture 
in her eyes. 

When Martha found herself alone with Silas, she half 
whispered, lest the visitors should overhear: 

" Neow ben't she a beauty ? I dew say ! " 

" She 's pooty as a pictur, I swan ! " said Silas, peeling off 
his coat with all speed, in which he had been victimized all 
the evening out of respect for his company. 

But Silas's self-sacrifice stopped there. He could not 
encase his feet in shoes ; that was beyond his constitutional 
strength. He had a natural repugnance to shoes, except as 
a protection against Jack Frost. 

"I swan tew man," he continued, "if I don't pity the 
child ! She 's smilin' and sweet as a basket o' chips, but 
there 's a look out 'n her eyes that ben't good for gladness. 
Sure 's a gun, it ben't all right inside of her 'pearance, 
mother." 

"Seems like she dooz look for something that 's lost, when 
she ben't talkin'. Her eyes look away beyant ye, when ye 
look in 'em ; makes me feel kind o' queer sometimes. But 
Horace don't let 'er think long. How that fellow dooz keep 
fussin round ! " 

" He 's too proud of 'er for her good, I calculate. I don't 
like that grievin' look out'n her eyes — that's so! I'd 
like tew know if she loves him ; a body can't tell from her 
looks, I swan ! " 

" I guess she dooz, or she would n't be here. I wonder 
how Horace got 'er away from the old folks ; did n't 'Lonzo 
tell?" 

"No; the fellow was clus-mouthed as a chestnut-bur. I 
never did see the beat of it, 'fore day ! I knowed some 'n 
was up when that fellow cut so shy, I swan ! " 



232 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Guess not. Horace is tender of 'er as a siickm' babe, 
and she seems tew feel thankful for his kindness. I don't 
see no cause for complaint nowhere." 

" Wall, I hope you 're right, but I have my doubts ; them 
eyes don't look right, tew my mind. Who ever saw such 
hands, I 'd like tew know 7 ! — hardly a mite bigger than our 
little Mat's, and white as two snow-flakes at that ! Them 
hands never done no work, you may bet — and Horace poor 
as stunny ground! I swan tew man, if that hand did n't feel 
like a bit o' gun-cotton when she put in mine ! I 'm afraid 
I squoze it a mite too many, not bein' used tew such hands ; 
fur she squinched, and looked a bit hurt, poor child ! " 

The advent of a Southerner in Yankee land aroused the 
curious all around. Horace Stanhope's beautiful Southern 
wife drew many inquisitive hearts to Silas's humble home. 

Our heroine was pained to see no young faces among them 
all. Even the children had a hard, ancient, weary look. 
And then their conversation was startling to Southern ears. 
It was of washing clothes, haying, selling butter and cheese, 
and the sin of slavery, and Southern chivalry. 

Bertha bit her lip with suppressed amusement, and veiled 
her eyes from the honest, humble, and toil-hardened natives. 
Then she sighed more deeply for her own dear refined 
Southern land. 



CHAPTER XL. 

BERTHA'S LIFE IX BERKSHIRE. 

UNCLE EXOS" was the boast of the Stanhope race — 
an elder brother of Horace's father, and worth eighty 
thousand dollars. 



BEAUTY. 233 

Bertha had heard of "Uncle Enos" until her curiosity 
was alive to behold that ancient and distinguished indi- 
vidual. She hoped, also, to see something of Southern style 
and refinement under the roof of one of his means. 

The mode of living of those whose acquaintance she had 
formed in the old Bay State, was rather beneath that of the 
lowest class of Carolina backwoodsmen. Bertha longed for 
something of a different type. 

Silas was a "well-to-do farmer," but the poorest Southerner 
she had ever known was his superior in gentility, both in 
person and domicil. She liked the humble-minded man 
for his warm heart and evident interest in the young 
stranger, but there was not a home air about his personnel 
and premises. 

They were going to " Uncle Enos's " to spend the day — 
a distance of three Yankee miles; which means, simply, 
twice that number, taking into the reckoning the ups and 
downs of the way. You may travel double the distance on 
Southern soil, and save your brain-pan and backbone into 
the bargain. 

Silas brought out the Jersey wagon, and the four married 
Stanhopes filled it to surfeiting — including the baby in 
Martha's lap. 

" Newt" was left to take care of the three younger ones 
and the cat, with instructions " tew milk the ke-ows, and 
give the pig a bit o' swosh, if they did n't git tew hum afore 
dark." 

" Uncle Enos's " house was a two-story frame, set upon a 
hill, with a narrow yard in front bounded by a low fence, 
and no flowers or flowering shrubs around. The dwelling 
had thirsted for paint many years, and had grown dry and 
withered for the want. It reminded Bertha of a broken- 
down Carolina country aristocrat. 

All around looked lonely and sighing, in the sadly shim- 
20* 



234 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

mering September sunshine. The everlasting mountains 
frowned down on every side heavy and grim, as the iron 
portals of a State penitentiary, shutting her in from the 
sweet hopes of sunnier life beyond ! 

The family consisted of the old people and two sons, two 
hired girls and one man. 

" Uncle Enos " was a little, w T ithered-up, weather-beaten 
man, of seventy odd years ; he might have been a centena- 
rian from appearance. His bright blue eyes twinkled like 
stars in December, and looked quite as cold ; but his heart 
w r as seemingly as warm as his hand was hard. He was 
exceedingly fond of " fun " and " young folks." His dress 
was decent, but home-made. He had shoes on his feet ! 

"Aunt Nancy " was a large, fat, blue-eyed, dignified old 
lady, with a pleasant smile and pleasing address. Bertha 
leaned towards her at first sight. There was more refine- 
ment in "Aunt Nancy's" mind and manners than our 
heroine had met with in Massachusetts. 

The old lady was afflicted with lameness, and moved 
about slowly and painfully ; but every movement was dig- 
nified and self-conscious. Her antecedents were, obviously, 
superior to her surroundings. She was a native of Con- 
necticut. " Uncle Enos " had transplanted her from an 
ancestral conservatory to a kitchen - garden. In inherent 
possessions and powers she rose superior to the drudgery of 
every-day life. Her individuality was plainly perceptible 
— it had not been absorbed by his. She commanded the 
highest respect of her husband, children, and friends. 
Bertha loved her. 

Jason, the elder son, was a small, modest, hard-working 
man of twenty-two, indifferently educated, and engaged to 
be married. Jason blushed like a girl at the bare mention 
of matrimony. He was amiable as he was ignorant, and 
timid as he was industrious. 



BEAUTY. 235 

Gideon, or " Gid," as he was invariably termed by all 
but his mother, was a six-footer, and well filled out ; was 
inclined to be literary, but his orthography was excruci- 
ating. His limited education vetoed his would-be author- 
ship. His letters were good for grief. A "blue-devil" 
would fly before them as fast as raw recruits from i regular 
army. But Gid inherited his mother's nature, and would 
have made a superior man with proper cultivation ; but 
" Uncle Enos " bound him to the " farm," and dwarfed his 
genius. He was but nineteen, notwithstanding his mature 
proportions. 

Gid had a bright eye for beauty, and no caution to cover 
his honest admiration with ; and Horace Stanhope's watch- 
ful eyes glittered with green fire, as Gid made no secret of 
his regard for Bertha. 

Horace soon found his uncle's home very uncomfortable 
quarters ; but prudence held him in patient bonds a while. 
He was dependent upon his relatives, and must submit to 
the exigencies of his condition ; but Bertha felt the torture 
he endured. He could not suffer her to rest while he was 
in pain. 

Horace Stanhope would have declined his uncle's invita- 
tion to visit a while with them, had he been indejoendent in 
purse; but there was no alternative, and he glowed a mortal 
week with jealous rage, provoked by Gid's innocent admira- 
tion of, and boyish attachment to "Cousin Bertha." 

They had been but a day domiciled at " Uncle Enos's," 
when Horace entered our heroine's chamber, and asserted, 
with clouded brow and low-pitched tone : 

" You 've been telling Uncle Enos that I am jealous ! " 

Bertha looked up in astonishment. 

"/have?" 

" Yes, you have ; and you dare not deny it ! " 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Stanhope ; I have never spoken 



236 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

to him on the subject — I have too much self-respect ; " her 
lip curled. 

Horace subsided forthwith. With all his mean-minded- 
ness, he never doubted her veracity. He never looked into 
those clear, soul-full eyes, and declared, seriously, he ques- 
tioned her truth. He was a queer compound of consistency 
and meanness. He loved her, and relied upon her honor ; 
yet he was jealous of her love, and was not content to make 
himself miserable — she must share his wretchedness. He 
was happy when he could torment her to tears, and mis- 
erable when she was apparently content. 

Bertha smiled, aside, at the bare idea of her becoming 
enamored of ignorant, clownish, but good-natured Gid ; yet 
she did not betray her feelings in seeming or words. She 
did not inquire why he had suspected her of exposing his 
faults; for her perceptions were sufficiently acute to discover 
"Uncle Enos's" keen eyes had detected the truth, without 
the aid of her tongue, and that a remonstrance from the 
old man had sent Horace up-stairs rankling with spite. She 
had not forgotten his solemn promise to her, the day she left 
her home, to follow him to a stranger land; but she did not 
remind him of it then. She would let the cloud pass over 
as softly as it might. But one truth was incontestable: 
Horace was as jealous of his own friends as he was of hers. 

Horace Stanhope finally came to an open rupture with 
Gid, who dubbed him " Green-Eyes," and took Bertha to 
Pittsfield to board, without any prospect of paying the bill. 
He professed to be in daily expectation of goods from 
" Cooley & Co.," and affected preparations for opening a 
store in that pleasant town; but time passed away, and the 
goods were not forthcoming; and Horace took his wife back 
to New York, with funds borrowed from Silas, and paid his 
bill in Pittsfield through the same source. 

"I swan tew man! "said Silas to Martha, shaking his 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 237 

fist furiously at an imaginary Horace, — "I swan tow man, 
if that clog's worth the powder it 'cl take tew blow 'im up ! 
I would n't a-done it, by hokey, ef it had n't a-ben for her — 
poor child !" 

Bertha did not cross the threshold of the hotel, during 
her stay in Pittsfield, until she left it for New T York. Her 
time there was undisturbed by clouds and constant drop- 
pings, for she formed no acquaintance but that of the land- 
lady, and a private table was laid for her lord's accommo- 
dation ; and Horace was at rest, relying upon his brother to 
liquidate his liabilities. 

It was early morn when they arrived at the great Babel. 
Bertha looked weary and care-worn. She was tired — very 
tired of the life she was living, and yearned for a quiet, 
peaceful place to rest her frail form and aching heart. 

She was forced to walk a long, weary way from the wharf 
to Alonzo's, for Horace's funds were expended, and the 
luxury of a hack was denied. 

Alonzo and Hannah welcomed her kindly, and the poor, 
tired heart revived as a feeling of home-warmth came over 
it once more. 

Horace sat down in his brother's home in ease and indo- 
lence, while Alonzo was laboring for his support, until, in 
extreme disgust, Bertha secretly informed her father of her 
shameful and revolting situation, and expressed a desire to 
return home. She then acquainted Horace of her act and 
purpose. He was struck dumb with astonishment and wrath, 
a moment. Then came the violent storm, succeeded by 
the gradual lull, and finally the tearful entreaties. 

Bertha reiterated her unwillingness to being dependent 
upon her brother-in-law, and bravely declared her determi- 
n«i'.ion to submit no longer to so humiliating a position. 

Bertha evidently rose in her new relative's esteem when 
The state of affairs was revealed by repentant Horace. She 
overheard Alonzo remark to Hannah, subsequently : 



238 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" I said she was honorable. I wish Horace was ! " 

Horace Stanhope now bestirred himself to avert the 
impending calamity of losing his lovely and daring wife. 
He was confounded by her temerity. He had thought her 
wholly in his power, when, lo ! she had shown herself capa- 
ble of more energy than himself! 

"How had she smuggled that letter into the post-office?" 

" Alonzo had taken it for her, without being aware of its 
contents, or of Horace's practice of reading all she wrote." 

Stanhope shut his teeth hard with impotent rage, fie 
dared not come to a rupture with Alonzo, for he well knew 
his brother would defend Bertha against him. He had 
playfully kissed her, on one occasion, in the presence of 
Hannah and himself; and Horace was as jealous of his own 
brother as he had been of Gid. 

Bertha was lectured in secret for too familiar deport- 
ment towards an old married man ! — and Alonzo's quick 
perceptions soon detected the gangrene of his brother's mind. 

Through the influence of his brothers, Horace Stanhope 
again obtained goods of "Cooley & Co.," and made pre- 
parations for commencing business on Sixth Avenue. 
Bertha had consented to remain with him, if she could do 
so without detriment to her sense of honor. 

When Stanhope returned, one evening, he observed a 
gentleman bidding adieu to Bertha, with more familiarity 
than was agreeable to Green-Eyes. 

" Who was that ? " he snapped out. 

" Pa's cousin — Mr. Averley." 

" The devil ! How did he find you ? " 

" Pa gave him my address." 

" Your pa 'd better mind his own business. What did 
the fellow want?" 

" To see me." 

" A very great honor ! Is that all ? " 



239 

" He wished to aid me in returning home, at pa's re- 
quest." 

"By ! I won't stand this much longer ! They can't 

let me alone, now that I am away from them. You are my 
wife, and no man shall take you from me by force." 

" But I can go, if circumstances render it advisable. I 
told you, Mr. Stanhope, I had written home for means to 
relieve me from a humiliating situation, and pa has only 
granted my request. Let your wrath fall upon ??ie, and 
spare your abuse of the innocent, i" can bear it. I have 
grown callous from long custom. You promised me, if I 
would trust you once more, I should never repent my con- 
fidence, so help you God ! You said if I were not content 
here, you would return me to my home. I told you then 
you would forget your promise, in the future, as you had in 
the past. Did I say right, Mr. Stanhope ? " 

Horace Stanhope said not a word, as he walked the floor 
and looked at the firm young face before him, with a 
puzzled, irresolute expression. Then the thought of her 
escape from La Violet Seminary came over him. She was 
very pliable when rightly managed, but could not be forced 
against her will — he knew that — without bolts and bars ; 
and then the witch always found friends everywhere, to 
protect her from her foes. Alonzo and Allyn would both 
sustain her ; and then there was that Averley relative just 
popped up — one of the wealthiest and most influential men 
in the city of New York. Stanhope knew him well by 
reputation ; and he knew, also, he would not venture to beat 
his featherless wings against that rock. He had kept her in 
ignorance of her city friends, but her father had foiled him. 

At length he said, mournfully, mastering his ire : 

" And so you are going home, Bertha ? " 

'* No, Horace ; I told you I would remain, if we could 
live independently. I will not leave you so long as we can 



240 

live together in peace and honor. But I could not consent 
to be a burden to your friends." 

Horace Stanhope was tender and true many days after 
this great relief from imminent danger. 

He took her to a little room in the rear of his store, and 
kept her hidden from the world ; passing most of his un- 
employed time with the little recluse, and watching for cus- 
tomers through a glass door that intervened. 

Mr. Averley informed the city relatives of Mr. Belmont 
of his daughter's locality; and the bitter cold winter passed 
more pleasantly than our herpine had anticipated. 

But Bertha did enter a church but twice during her 
six months' residence in the city. She was at his mercy 
there, for she dared not venture alone, and shrank from ex- 
posing him to her friends. 

Mr. Belmont, finding his daughter would not return to 
him, made preparations to dispose of his property at a 
sacrifice, and go to her. Mrs. Belmont's health was failing 
fast, and Claude urged the exchange. But ere the time of 
departure arrived, Mr. Belmont received a line from .Bertha, 
which ran: "Don't come. lam going home." 

And impatiently she waited an explanation. 



CHAPTER XLI. 



HORACE STANHOPE'S THIRD FAILURE. — BERTHA 
RESOLVES AND EXECUTES. 

HORACE STANHOPE had been doing business for 
Cooley & Co. but four months, when there was a 
sudden stop in the mercantile machinery. Something was 
evidently wrong, but Bertha was not permitted to know the 



211 

why and wherefore. She knew he had sold a great many 
goods, and affairs looked prosperous. 

She was surprised, one day, by the entrance of Horace 
into her hermitage, followed by two gentlemen. Mr. Cooley, 
she recognized ; the stranger was introduced as Mr. Har- 
man. This, then, was the firm with whom Horace had been 
dealing. 

Bertha's heart sank beneath a heavy presentiment of evil 
as she looked into Horace's eyes. As Colonel Wilmer had 
once said, there was a "sneaking, snaky look about him" 
that chilled her. He had the appearance of one who had 
been caught in some dishonest act, and was trying to wriggle 
out of the net. 

Bertha sat quietly and listened attentively. Messrs. 
Cooley & Co. were dissatisfied with the phase of affairs, 
and Stanhope's business must be brought to a sudden ter- 
mination. Bertha learned that much, but the groundwork 
of the cause of their dissatisfaction was couched in too ob- 
scure language for her comprehension. Horace evidently 
understood it, from the hue of his countenance; he was 
livid— whether from rage or shame, Bertha could not decide. 
He never blushed, whatever his feelings might be ; anger or 
confusion turned him deathly white. 

The " firm " was exceedingly gentlemanly, and kind as 
circumstances would justify, but they could no longer supply 
him with goods upon such terms as he had heretofore been 
receiving them. 

Here then was another cheat ! If Cooley and Co. had 
been paid promptly, they would not have brought matters 
to a sudden close. Stanhope, evidently, was indebted for 
the goods sold, and what had he done with the proceeds ? 
There was another Belmont affair over again! 

Bertha knew the profits had not been expended for her. 
His brothers, Alonzo and Allyn, had given her more than 
21 A 



242 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Horace had, since she came to the city. She had even been 
compelled to sleep on a straw mat during the entire bitter 
cold winter, to save the expense of feathers ; but she had 
not complained nor hinted of her comfortable home-quar- 
ters far away. Her board was very reasonable, with an 
honest, humble Irish family beneath the same roof. 

And yet, with all the economy they had practised and 
his rapid sales, he was a defaulter to the firm — to what 
amount she never knew. 

Stanhope led the way from the room, saw the firm safely 
out, and came back in a passion. 

" What was that fellow doing ? " he asked, with a black 
brow. 

" Which one, and when ? " 

" Oh, you need n't try to deceive me ! I saw it all." 

" I don't wish to deceive you, Mr. Stanhope. What did 
you see ? " 

" I saw that rascal Harman kiss his hand to you as he 
left!" 

" Is there any harm in that ? And if there is, am I re- 
sponsible for it ? " 

"I should think there was harm — a married man kissing 
his hand to a married woman ! If you 'd conducted pro- 
perly, he would not have taken the liberty — the knave ! " 

" You can judge of the propriety of my conduct ; you 
were present during their stay. I did not utter a dozen 
words while they remained, and I think I looked up but 
twice. I should have thought it rude in an utter stranger, 
but for the evident pity and respect that beamed in his 
eyes. I know but little, as yet, of your Northern style, and 
I meant to ask you if it was a common custom among 
Yankees." 

" Yes, it 's very likely I should have heard of it, if I 
had n't seen the insult from the villain ! " 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 243 

" I don't consider it an insult, Mr. Stanhope ; he is too 
gentlemanly to offer one." 

" Certainly ! of course you like it ! You 've got a new 
lover at first sight ! " 

" If I have, it 's no fault of mine. If it 's an insult, I am 
powerless to resent it. I have had to submit to a great 
many unpleasant things since I left my home. I said it 
would be so, but you would not leave me in peace. If you 
are offended by people's regard for me, you have only your- 
self to censure. You can very speedily rid yourself of the 
annoyance by sending me home." 

That softened him. His temper cooled, and he wilted 
down under the suggestion. Wrath blinded his reason when 
jealousy was aroused, and led him to the extent of abusing 
her for others' offences, until a hint of home subdued his 
rage. 

Had Horace Stanhope possessed the nerve, he would have 
murdered her in a moment of jealous frenzy ; but his love 
of life was too strong, and his cowardice too great, for even 
seething passion to render him insensible of danger. Ber- 
tha had received so many proofs of his pusillanimity, that 
she had ceased to feel any apprehension relative to her per- 
sonal safety. 

Horace Stanhope changed his tone and the subject as he 
cooled off. 

" And now the rascals have thrown me out of business, 
and we '11 have to go back to Alonzo's." 

" As poor as we left," she said, dryly. 

"Yes, and worse! I can't pay the rent, now that the 
villains have closed me up, to save the world ! I could 
have done well if they'd left me alone; I was just getting 
a good start and plenty of custom." 

Bertha wondered at the man's effrontery. He was throw- 
ing the fault from his own shoulders upon theirs, as he had 



244 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

done upon her father, and that, too, before her wide-awake 
eyes ! 

They went back to Alonzo's " on the sly," and the pro- 
prietor of Horace Stanhope's mercantile establishment never 
saw his rent-dues ! Mrs. James, the landlady, indemnified 
herself from the store, or she would have shared the same 
fate as their former landlady and the landlord. 

Bertha was entirely broken down in spirit. Horace Stan- 
hope mauifested no concern, saving that of being discovered 
by his creditors. He kept close to the premises, and lived 
upon his brother's bounty until Bertha wrote her father: 

" Don't come. I am going home." 

Horace Stanhope was urging her to go with him farther 
North into the country, w 7 hen she wrote her friends in des- 
peration. She said, firmly : 

" I will never go farther away from home than I now am, 
Mr. Stanhope. I have suffered enough here." 

He fretted and fumed, snufiled and sulked ; but Bertha's 
weakness was all gone — he pleaded in vain. 

Horace Stanhope was startled, one day, to see the head 
clerk of Cooley & Co., accompanied by other fellow-associ- 
ates, enter his brother's home and inquire for Mrs. Horace 
Stanhope. He did not appear before them, but awaited 
their departure in an agony of suspense. They looked 
pleased and tormentingly polite when they left the parlor. 
Green-Eyes saw it all in secret. 

" What's going on now?" he asked, w 7 ith half frightened 
eyes. 

" Pa has sent me funds to take me home. I am going 
home to-morrow, Mr. Stanhope. Messrs. Cooley & Co. are 
pa's agents in the matter." 

" The hell they are! How did they know where to find 
you ? " 

" They have my address." 



THE BEAUTY. 245 

" By ! And so you have betrayed me to them ! " 

" I was not aware of a desire on your part to elude them. 
I thought — " 

" You thought ! You had no business to think without 
consulting me ! " 

" I take the liberty of thinking independently, notwith- 
standing your lordship. I am a Southerner, Mr. Stanhope." 

He thought she was, from the fire in her face. It burnt him. 

Bertha knew his weak points, and assailed him there, 
during his fits of insane passion. She never failed to bring 
him down with a fiery shot. She found the more she yielded 
the more he would impose ; and she was forced, in self-de- 
fence, finally to turn upon him her spirit-battery, to keep 
him at bay. 

Horace Stanhope quailed before the flash of her eye, and 
his fury oozed away. He fell across the bed and sobbed 
like a boy; reproaching her, in plaintive tones, for her 
cruelty in betraying him, and her contemplated desertion 
of one who loved her more than his own life. 

But Bertha w T as not to be turned from her purpose this 
time. She had seen the end of the test-line, and there was 
no loop beyond to hang a hope upon. She was going home. 
She had strength enough to sustain, and friends sufficient to 
shield her. And she went. 



CHAPTER XLII. 

BERTHA ABANDONS A JEALOUS TYRANT. 

IT was a bright blue morn in February, when Bertha 
bade adieu to the great sin-laden city of New York, 
where so many wretched days and months of her young life 
21 * 



246 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

had been passed, and turned her sad face Southward. She 
was sad even to tears, for her hopes lay in ruins. There 
was no longer a star in the dim horizon of her heart to lead 
her hopefully in the future. She was on the wide ocean of 
life, drifting without a helm. 

Horace was broken down by her firmness, but powerless 
to prevent her desertion ; and his grief-full face filled her 
with sorrow, notwithstanding the past, and want of confi- 
dence for the future. 

He had put on his most penitent seeming, to turn her 
from her purpose ; but Bertha knew how long it would last 
if she relented, and what would come after. She steeled 
her heart, and went firmly forward. 

Had Horace Stanhope been brave and manly, he might 
have led her to the end of the world ; but she had tested 
him thoroughly, and could trust him no longer, away from 
her friends. They had suffered enough in the past, and she 
would no longer punish them and herself for one so worth- 
less. 

Bertha went like a stoic, but her heart ached for the 
unhappiness she was leaving, in one who had wrought it by 
his own unworthiness. 

" Look, Mrs. Stanhope," said the good old man to whose 
care her friends had confided her. 

Bertha turned her eyes in the direction indicated, and far 
away in the blue distance fluttered a white signal. Horace 
Stanhope had followed the steamer that bore away his long- 
suffering wife, to the extremest point, and waved her fare- 
well from the Battery. 

Bertha answered it, and the white handkerchief floated in 
the morning breeze until distance shut it from her sight. 
Then she went down to her state-room, and her full heart 
overflowed in tears, until a swift memory came and dried 
them up like summer drought. If she were in his power, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 247 

how would he exercise it for her imhappiness. How had he 
repaid her trust and sacrifice for his sake. How dishonest 
he had proven himself toward those who had befriended 
him in his extremity. There was no gratitude, indepen- 
dence, or integrity in him. He was a jealous tyrant, content 
to be a burden to his relatives ! 

Bertha Belmont " despised meanness ; " and reflection 
upon the true character of Horace Stanhope, of which she 
possessed a thorough knowledge, sent her back to the deck 
with a feeling of freedom in her young heart that had long 
been a stranger to her breast. Like a long-imprisoned bird 
just escaped from its cruel captor, she shook her glad spirit 
wings, and mounted upward from her late tormentor. 

Bertha had vowed, solemnly, in her secret heart, when 
she firmly resolved to leave her worthless husband to his 
fate, that she would never return to him until he had proven 
himself worthy of respect and confidence. But Horace Stan- 
hope was ignorant of that vow, and trusted to time and absence 
to win her back, as subsequent events clearly demonstrated. 
But our heroine had drank of the cup he prepared, and 
declined to drain it to the dregs, until it was sweetened 
with the "repentance that needeth not* to be repented of." 

God tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, for the great 
ocean lay, like a lion, asleep ; and not a growl or threaten- 
ing aspect disturbed the equanimity of our heroine, as the 
gallant bark that bore her to her waiting friends, steamed 
through the seething waters. 

Bertha felt grateful to Him who rules the w T aves, when 
the old captain said he " had never made so quick and 
pleasant a time in many a year — shiver his timbers ! " 

There was evidently no Jonah aboard of that ship ! 

Old Virginia ! Bertha's thin face brightened when she 
opened her eyes, one morning, and beheld the sacred soil of 
the Mother of Presidents. Broad, beautiful, sunny lands, 



248 

sweeping far away as eye could reach. How unlike the 
rocky hollows, hedged in by frowning granite hills, with a 
patch of wintry sky above and a feeling of frost beneath! 

Bertha clasped her small hands, and thanked God that 
the sweet, sunny South was her home. 

Majestic Potomac ! How she loved its blue waters that 
flowed from a Southern fountain. The skies looked bluer 
and softer, and unresurrected Nature fairer, in a Southern 
atmosphere. Silent, solemn, beautiful Mount Vernon lands! 
rising abruptly and greenly from the river's rim, and sweep- 
ing back and far beyond the ancient roof that sheltered the 
venerable head of the Pater Patrie f 

Grand old Fort Washington ! — smiling down from its 
emerald height as innocently as though no iron instruments 
of death lay hidden behind its heavy, deceitful walls ! 

On, through the white foam and hissing waters ; on through 
the singing breezes and purpling twilight; and our heroine, 
straining her brown eyes through the evening mist, to catch 
the first glimpse of the strange city where her loved ones 
looked and longed for her coming, was " safe at home ! " 

Home — but not beneath the loved roof of her childhood ! 
Home — but not among the familiar faces that smiled upon 
her six long, weary, grief-laden months ago ! Home — but 
not with the blue, sunny skies of her native State shining 
over her ! 

And yet it was home to our heart-sick heroine, for her 
foot touched Southern soil, and her best-loved ones and most 
faithful were there. Here she could rest her fading form 
and fainting spirit, undisturbed by jealous clouds and re- 
pentant showers. 

Here she would not be pulled continually from pillow to 
post by a dishonest debtor, creeping under cover of dark- 
ness from his creditors, without a tinge of shame upon his 
brazen cheek, — and sit down in humiliating dependence 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 249 

beneath the roof of those upon whom she had no claim but 
that which humanity and, worst of all, charity recognizes. 

Mr. Belmont had disposed of most of his real estate in 
Carolina previous to the reception of Bertha's letter com- 
municating her design to abandon Horace Stanhope. Mrs. 
Belmont's health was declining, and Claude, just verging 
upon manhood, longed for change of scene. 

They came to the Old Dominion, and settled down in a 
pleasant, quiet home, impatiently awaiting the arrival of 
our long absent and ocean-rocked heroine. 

But few perfectly happy moments are realized by a human 
heart in a life-time ; and Bertha experienced one of the few 
when Mr. Belmont and Claude entered the cabin and caught 
her up in their arms. 

The kind-hearted captain lingered behind to witness the 
meeting, and turned away with a bright smile and quick 
dash of his honest hand across his eyes. 

Bertha's wet eyes widened with astonishment as she 
looked upon Claude. The slender boyish form had grown 
to manhood in half a year ; and Bertha's small head was 
forced to bend far backward to get a good look at his 
laughing face as it towered high above her. 

Claude said he "had stretched himself to that length, 
reaching after her across such wide water and high hills." 

Bertha said, in her home that night, with tender arms 
and glad faces around her : 

" I '11 never leave you again, mamma. I 've seen the end 
of hope for Horace ; and now I '11 die at home." 

"Not yet!" sang out Claude, starting up, and shuffling 
over the carpet with old-time boyishness, — "can't afford it 
just yet, sis ! You belong to us now, and, dog me, if any- 
body else of the human stripe shall ever have you while 
'bub "s around !" 

Uncle Ben poked his black, woolly head in from the 



250 

kitchen, and looked on in solemn silence awhile at Claude's 
Terpsichorean performance. Then he said, soberly : 

" Why don't ye mix it, young mass'r? You makes one 
foot do it all — he-a, he-a ! " 

Claude dropped down in a chair before this critical fire, 
and drew both feet under him, as though ashamed of their 
ignorance ; and Uncle Ben's head disappeared suddenly, 
but his humorous mouth was heard in the distance. 

Alone in her quiet chamber, its sweet silence unbroken 
by Horace Stanhope's complainings, reproaches, and itera- 
tions of affection unreturned, Bertha looked down the long 
lane of departed years, onward through the fate-shadowed 
future. 

She had tried to do her duty as a wife, but all her 
efforts and sacrifices had been vain, and wholly unappre- 
ciated by him for whom they were made. She was at home 
once more, and she would never desert it again for one so 
undeserving of trust and respect. She had but little hope 
of his reformation, and a lonely, isolated life was before 
her. No hope of forming new ties, to brighten the pathway 
to another state of existence ; but year after year to walk 
that pathway alone — shut out by a fatal vow from the 
nearest and dearest relationship known to mortals ! 

And what would the world say ? The world — cold, un- 
feeling, heartless — it ever laid the burden upon the weak, 
and let the strong go free. Man might sin grievously, and 
be countenanced by the world; but woman must suffer for 
ever an apparent wrong ! 

How unevenly the scales of Justice are balanced in this 
wicked world ! 

But Bertha's conscience was at rest ; and thoughts of 
what the world might whisper, of her living apart from her 
husband, did not trouble her spirit. She resolved to go 
firmly forward, in the straight and narrow way of duty to 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 251 

those who loved her most, and obedience to her own con- 
victions of right, and leave the rest to God. 

But our heroine soon found the world was disposed to be 
more kind and favorable to her than it had shown itself to 
others in a similar situation. Her beauty and retiring 
nature softened its stony heart, and let its latent warmth, 
and wooing smiles, leak through its admiring eyes. It 
came around her with new songs of love ; but Bertha sadly 
smiled, and informed them of the "insuperable barrier to the 
realization of their hopes." 

They told her she might be free by "due process of law," 
and prayed her to suffer them to hope for a favorable 
answer in the future ; but Bertha's heart was untouched, 
and she gently forbade the. indulgence of a delusive dream 
for days to come. 

Then the face came up from the South, and looked in at 
her ; and she smiled. But the smile soon died away, and 
left her brown eyes w T eary and wandering. 

" A letter from Green-Eyes ! " and Claude ' held it up 
before her, with a turn-up-nose expression. 

" What news from afar ? " inquired Mr. Belmont, as he 
knocked the ashes from his pipe, and spit upon the carpet 
in aiming at the grate. 

"Horace has left New York city, and is cashier of a 
Bank in Buffalo." 

"Well, I pity that Bank!" exclaimed Mr. Belmont, 
dryly. 

" Me too, Katy," said Claude, putting one finger on the 
end of his nose. 

"Don't you?" continued Mr. Belmont, looking over his 
spectacles at silent Bertha. 

" I am afraid it won't prosper, under the circumstances, 
unless — " 



252 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Prosper ! hang me if I don't believe it '11 burst up in a 
week!" exclaimed Mr. Belmont, spitting furiously at the 
grate, and hitting the fender. 

" Getting rich rapidly, and trying to coax you back to 
share his wealth with him, eh ? " inquired the old father, 
facetiously. 

Bertha laid the letter in his hand, and went up to her 
chamber. Mr. Belmont grunted, indignantly, as he read. 

" Just as I expected. The rascal holds up a brilliant 
light and glittering lure ; but he won't catch Bertha in a 
hurry, I '11 wager. That child 's got enough of the rogue, I 
think. Well, I would n't like to stand in the fellow's shoes 
that owns the most stock in that Bank," he said, soberly, as 
he pulled off his specks, and fed his mouth with " honey- 
dew " from his vest-pocket. 

*' Ain't it astonishing," he broke forth, after chewing and 
musing a while, " how that fellow can talk, after acting dog- 
mean for two years ? Why, a stranger would think, from 
that loving epistle, he was the worst-used innocent that ever 
fell among thieves, and lost all but his honor and deathless 
devotion ! Why, even his brother don't respect him. What 
a letter that was from Alonzo, since Bertha came back ! 
One can see he pities and esteems her, which says plaguey 
little for his brother. And now, after all she knows of the 
rascal, he's just ninny enough to think he can coax her 
back w T ith chaff! Well, he need n't try that on, to my mind, 
for Bertha 's too old a bird, in suffering for his sins, to be 
caught again with anything but good bait — I '11 wager." 

Bertha was musing, in her chamber, with her round chin 
resting upon her small hand, and her introverted eyes 
turned towards her childhood's home. Bertha loved the 
south window, but her thoughts were not there then. She 
was thinking of the letter her father was commenting upon. 
She wondered if Horace Stanhope fancied she could be 



253 

deceived again? She marvelled at the tone of the missive, 
as though he could annihilate her memory at will, and force 
her to believe a falsehood. He might do well in Buffalo, 
as he might have done in Williamsville and New York 
city, but she doubted seriously if he remained there long, 
and did not leave it poorer than he went. 

No penniless young man had ever been favored with 
better opportunities for accumulating wealth and rendering 
himself influential and honored by his fellows than Horace 
Stanhope ; and yet he had deceived and injured his best 
friends by his dishonesty, and brought wretchedness upon 
his own head by his worthlessness. 

And now he evidently thought to entrap her again by 
love- words and affected innocence. If she were with him 
then, what would her fate be ? Stealing away from his 
employer in darkness, or visiting him in prison — left alone 
and desolate among utter strangers ! Bertha shuddered at 
the thought. 

Had he been honest, his poverty would not have driven 
her from him. Had he been honorable, she would have 
clung to him through all time. It is true she did not love 
him when they married, but there was a strange warmth 
and leaning in the wife's heart toward the husband, that the 
affianced had not felt for the lover. He might have won 
her whole heart by manly forbearance and kindness ; and the 
face, that was but a romance of early girlhood, might have 
been hidden from her sight forever behind the dearer image 
of his own life. 

It was only in hours of disappointment and remorse for 
having married one so unworthy, that the face looked up, 
through the long years, and reproached her. Were she with 
him now, she would be but a burden. Could she have aided 
him, in New York city, in honorable efforts for a livelihood, 
she would not have deserted him. Though accustomed to ease 



254 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

and every indulgence at home, it would have been a satis- 
faction to her spirit of independence to assist him in his 
business ; but Horace Stanhope's green life would not suffer 
her to appear before his customers. 

Bertha drew a long sigh of relief as she felt her freedom 
from such thraldom as she had endured from Horace Stan- 
hope, and she felt no desire to repeat the experience of the 
past two years. She only hoped he would not fall into 
deeper disgrace from his present situation in the Buffalo 
Bank. 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

MR. REDMOND SUSPECTS BERTHA^ SECRET. 

OMY ! Ome!" and Edalia Eldon sprang into the office 
and danced around her husband and uncle, flourishing 
a letter as she went. 

" What the deuce ails the girl ! " exclaimed Mr. Red- 
mond, looking after her, with his head in a whirl occasioned 
by her rapid movements. " Out with it, Ed." 

'"Bertha the Beauty' has abandoned that rascal Stan- 
hope for good and all, and is safely sheltered in the nest- 
home in Alexandria." 

She dropped upon "Walter's lap, and hugged him around 
the neck until he affected strangulation, and opened his 
mouth, gasping for breath, to the young wife's great amuse- 
ment. 

"For good and all!" growled Mr. Redmond. "That 
means, until he comes around her whining again, with new 
protestations of penitence for past villany and promises of 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 255 

better behavior in future. He '11 cheat her back again, I '11 
bet two chincapins — by Jupiter ! " 

" No. Bertha '11 never leave her home again for any- 
such rascal. She 's run the full length of the test-line, and 
now, if he gets her, he '11 have to ' put off the old man with 
his deeds,' and furnish good proof of his honesty. I know 
Bertha ; she won't trust him again until he 's trustworthy. 
You may bet all your chincapins on that, uncle." 

" Well, I hope so, for he 's the most worthless scamp that 
ever owned a wife — by Jupiter ! If she 'd deserted him 
twelve months ago, it would have been better for her and 
her family, a dog sight ! He 's broke Belmont up bodily, 
for he sold his property for just nothing, to go to her; and 
now it can't be bought for double the amount that Mezer 
gave for it. I know that, for I tried it on, last court. It 's 
about the finest location in town ; and if Belmont had n't 
been crazy about his daughter, he never would have sold the 
house w T here his children were born — or, more properly 
speaking, given it away — for it's little more than that. 
Mezer made a great bargain there, and chuckles over it 
now. If I 'd known the old man's intention, I would 
have saved him such a sacrifice. But some men's soul all 
lies in their pocket, both north and south of Mason and 
Dixon's." 

" Poor Bertha grieves over the loss of ' the house where I 
was born,' and if she'd been aware of her father's design, 
he never would have sold it. But Mr. Belmont rented it 
eleven years, you know — during their residence in the low 
brown house with the long piazza — and had it so badly 
abused by tenants, he concluded it would be about the 
cheapest way to sell, especially as he expected never to re- 
turn to Carolina. I 'm sure, from the tone of this letter, 
Bertha would be happier in her old home, though she says 
nothing detrimental to her present one. Her description of 



256 

it is quite poetic. I shouldn't wonder a bit if Bertha 
turned authoress now, uncle." 

" Why so, chatterbox ? " 

Mr. Redmond declared, with a merry twinkle of his blue 
eye, that " Ed, the scamp, had grown wild as a deer, and 
tormented him to death with her interminable tongue, since 
her marriage with the bug's nominee for President! He 
could n't muse a minute, or take a nap on the sofa, without 
having his hair pulled or a red rag tied to his coat-tail — 
by Jupiter ! " 

Edalia's temperament had changed wonderfully since her 
happy union with Walter Eldon. Her pensive cast had all 
evanished with her loss of individuality ; and a happy heart 
made a merry countenance and music day-long in her sun- 
shiny home. She was a loved and loving wife, and life lay 
blossom-crowned before her, seemingly one long unclouded 
summer-bright day. 

" — Why so, chatterbox ? " 

" Because, uncle, it is said a poetic temperament only 
requires some adverse circumstance to develop its powers ; 
and Bertha comes under that rule. She has the 'divine 
afflatus' in an eminent degree, and I think she certainly has 
'learned in suffering' quite enough to 'teach in song.' I 
fancy I see premonitions of a literary career in this most 
remarkable letter." And Edalia read it aloud to the ad- 
miring gentlemen. 

" Well, that reads like a book," said the old man, with a 
gratified snap of his bright eyes ; — " 't would n't look bad 
in print, either. If Bertha ever tries her hand with the 
author's pen she '11 succeed — I '11 go my bet on that ! " 

And Bertha had tried and succeeded ; but safely sheltered 
beneath a friendly nom de plume. She learned enough of 
her powers, and the appreciation of the public, in her secure 
retreat, to come forth bravely, at last, self-conscious and 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 257 

self-sustaining; and twelve months after her abandonment 
of her worthless husband, "Bertha Belmont Stanhope" was 
favorably known to the literary world. She learned to live 
a new and happier life in the Vale of Tempe, than she had 
ever known in by-gone years ; and her troubled spirit calmed 
in the lulling waters of Helicon. 

Our heroine grew stronger in the daily exercise of scram- 
bling up the rugged heights of Parnassus, where she caught 
warmer glimpses of the life far above this cold and sordid 
earth, from her ideal stand-point. 

Mr. Redmond entered his home, one day, with a remark- 
ably elastic step for a man of his age, and a queer smile 
about his eyes and mouth. He held an open paper in both 
hands. 

Minnie was sitting with Edalia ; and Charlie, her bright 
boy, was expressing his delight at the tiny white face in 
Walter's arms. Mr. Redmond was a grand-uncle, and made 
a wry face at the ancient sound. 

" I say, Ed, it 's come at last ; you said so ! But it 's got 
the heart-ache, and I 've caught it — poor child ! " 

"What is it, Uncle Ned? " and Minnie's eyes widened. 

" Bertha Belmont Stanhope's first poem, in the ' Williams- 
ville Banner,' as pretty a bud as ever opened in springtime! 
but it's got a big bright tear in it, by Jupiter! " 

" O-h-h ! " and Minnie made a lunge at the paper, and 
succeeded in capturing it. 

" We '11 have more of the same sort, too ; for the editor 
tells us 'he is happy to announce to his readers — many of 
whom are personally acquainted with the fair and gifted 
author — that he has been so fortunate as to engage her as 
a regular contributor.' Bertha 's bound to shine in the 
literary galaxy, I see that. What 's the matter, Min ? " 

" I 've swallowed that tear, and it chokes me, Uncle Ned ! " 

" I thought so, by Jupiter ! I 'd like to see the heart that 
22* R 



258 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

would n't melt in that heat ! It sounds just as Bertha used 
to look — plaintive and heart-broken. I wonder if that 
child did n't meet with some disappointment in early youth? 
She always looked as though she had lost something, and 
was trying to think where she had dropped it. I 've always 
had the impression she was in love when she left the low 
brown house with the long piazza, but I never let it out 
before. Don't you girls know ? There ! I thought so, by 
Jupiter ! What are you crossing eyes about ? I won't let 
the cat out." 

" Bertha has acknowledged as much, uncle ; but I haven't 
the slightest clue to the discovery of the individual, unless 
it is Edward Kedmond, Esquire, as I suggested, years ago. 
You would n't act upon the suggestion, and ask her ? " 

"Fiddlesticks! p-h-e-w! get out!" growled the old man, 
with a frowning brow and a dash of humor in his eyes. 
" May and December don't mate well, or I might have been 
tempted to try it, and save her from that green-eyed, grace- 
less Stanhope. But seriously, young folks, I think I have 
the key that locks up the secret in Bertha's heart, and just 
shows its head in that poem." 

"Do tell, Uncle Ned!" — and Minnie sidled up, coax- 
ingly. 

"Shan't do it till I 'm convinced of the fact, and there's 
no danger of betraying what she has so long concealed. I 've 
watched her too closely, from childhood, not to have read 
something of her hidden nature, and — " 

"Oh, you have! — so, so!" interrupted Minnie, dipping 
down and peering significantly into his sober face, — "that 
lets the cat out on t' other side, Uncle Ned ! " 

" Oh, blast the — I mean, bless the girl ! I can't walk 
soberly into a serious subject without getting my foot in the 
mud of a foreign and facetious matter. Hanged if I '11 
keep such company — by Jupiter ! " 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 259 

The old gentleman rocked himself out of the room, with 
an unusually red face, and both hands punching out his 
coat-flaps, with shouts of laughter following him from the 
" young folks." 

" I wonder whom he suspects ? " said Minnie, softly. 

" Can't imagine," responded Edalia. 

" The man in the moon," suggested Walter. 

" Walter, maybe," — and Minnie laid one rosy finger 
across her red mouth and looked cunningly around. 

" Missed the mark, then. Bertha never loved me." 

" How do you know? " 

" I could n't be deceived. If she had, she might have won 
me when Ed was ice ! I half died for some one to love me, 
when I was a poor, lone boy. But it 's all over now," he 
said, hastily, as tears started to Edalia's eyes, — " and the 
darkness of the past only renders the present brighter." 



CHAPTER XLIV. 
bertha's nerves receive a sudden shock. 

WHAT wit?" 
Bertha was standing before the mirror, gazing half 
sadly at the image reflected therein. 

And what was Bertha thinking about? And why the 
self-query ? 

She was wondering what it was in that pale, pensive face 
that was so attractive. She could see no beauty there, and 
wondered at the strange fascination that pale, pensive face 
possessed for others. 

She had just parted with a new suitor — a stranger, and 



260 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

minister of the gospel. Bertha was pleased by such a con- 
quest, but his sad, half despairing eyes, as she informed him 
of her situation, pained her memory. 

Edwin Langley had seen her yesterday for the first time ; 
to-night he had declared himself her lover. Bertha was 
startled by the sudden and unlooked-for declaration. She 
knew his piety and worth by reputation ; and the noble 
heart that ached in his expressive eyes at bidding her and 
his hopes farewell, pained her own sympathizing heart. 

And our heroine stood before the mirror, in her silent 
chamber, and examined the pale, sickly, sad face, with its 
mournful brown eyes and small, grieving mouth, and mar- 
velled at its strange power. Here, as in her childhood's 
home, she was still "Bertha the Beauty," though twenty- 
two years had gone over her head, and four of those years 
filled to overflowing with deep soul-suffering. Bertha won- 
dered that the golden-brown curls, put plainly away from 
her veined forehead behind her small ears, were not as white 
as the marble-like cheeks they bordered, when she wandered 
through the past, in thought, and stood in the black shadows 
of her fate. She was not happy, for her life had been a 
failure — her girlish dreams of the future lay in ruins upon 
the wayside of the dead years, and she was alone, though 
surrounded by loving hearts. There was a great void in 
her life, that ached day-long and far into the night with its 
emptiness. 

She had won fame with her fire-tipped pen ; her poems 
were transcripts of the heart that wrestled with its dark 
destiny ; and they took firmly hold of the heart that read, 
and showered back praise upon the author. But that did 
not satisfy. The poor lone heart that sang the low requiem 
of its earthly life ached on, and was hungry still. 

"I say, sis, — do you remember Percy Ormund, the nice 



THE BEAUTY. 261 

young fellow who boarded a while with us in the low brown 
house with the long piazza?" 

This was Claude's query to Bertha, as he came in from 
"down town," one day. 

Our heroine's head was bent over the MS. before her, 
and Claude could not see her face. She had turned toward 
him, as he entered, with her accustomed smile of welcome ; 
but ere the query was ended, the small head was bent lower 
than when he entered her presence, and the clustering curls 
fell over the face that was averted more than was necessary 
to accommodate her vision to the MS. before her. 

"Yes, I do remember, now," she said, after a slight 
hesitation. 

" Well, the old boy has been ' histed ' to a high post in 
Carolina by the appreciating people. I've just seen the 
announcement in print." 

"I want tew know! — yeou don't say!" said Bertha, 
turning full upon Claude, and screwing her small mouth 
facetiously. 

" I swan tew man if it ben't a fact ! — shiver my timbers ! " 
responded Claude, catching at the reminder, and exploding 
with mirth. 

" Well, I 'm truly glad to hear of the old boy's luck," 
continued Claude, delightedly, — " he was just about the 
finest young fellow that ever stood five feet eleven in his 
boots before he was twenty. I 'd like to know if he *s grown 
much taller since ' old pod-anger days.' If he has, he don't 
have to pay tax in this country, now that he 's twenty-nine ! 
He was only nineteen then. How the years do fly ! " he 
added, musingly, without looking at Bertha. " I was only 
twelve then, and now I J m twenty-two. Heigh-ho ! quite 
an old man, and not married yet ! I wonder if Percy is ? " 

" Beyond a doubt," said Bertha, scratching away with a 
pen, her head bent low over the sheet before her. 



262 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"The old fellow tried to get back as a private pupil of 
pa's, you remember, dou't you?" 

"I believe I have a faint remembrance," said Bertha, 
carelessly. 

" And if pa had n't refused, we might know more about 
him now. A longer acquaintance might have led to some- 
thing lasting. Who knows ? " he asked, looking archly 
around ; but Bertha's face was invisible. 

" Tut ! " she said, without lifting her veiled face ; but 
comprehending his insinuation, " nothing but children we 
were." 

" He was a pretty big child then, I must say. I wonder 
why he wished to return as a private pupil, with such edu- 
cational advantages in his own city. You were a wee bit 
of a brat then, and I was too small for suspicion; but dog, 
if I don't smell a mice at this late day ! I wish it had been 
a bee, for he was a noble young fellow ; and then you would 
have missed that green-eyed, roguish Stanhope ! I wonder 
where the rascal will turn up next, now that he 's sold his 
handsome house, and left Batavia — ha, ha! " 

"I can't imagine." Bertha dropped the pen, and turned 
around now. " Not here, I hope, with his reputation." 

" It would n't be well for him ! " growled Claude ; " he 'd 
carry off a coat of tar and feathers, if he did n't bring a 
better character than he 's got up there ! I wonder why the 
fellow don't leave the world, and take a tree to hide his 
infamous head ! And then to tax his Yankee cunning to 
get you back, when he can't take care of himself, — the 
dishonest dog ! I wish he 'd keep his letters to himself — 
they 're sickening ! " 

" He will, in future. He means to apply for a divorce, 
'on the ground of abandonment,' unless I return. I shall 
write him no more." 

" Good — by George! " shouted Claude, starting up with 



263 

abound. "Go it, old green-eyes and rogue! — nobody '11 
stop you ! " he cried, jubilantly, overturning a chair, as he 
cut the pigeon-wing around the room. 

" Well, that 's the best news I 've heard in six years ! " 
he said, as he sobered down and replaced the chair. "I 
don't want that name hung on to mine any longer, and I 
would have cut it loose, long ago, if it could have been 
done. But as you deserted him, it made it a hard matter 
for you to clip it off. I thank the rascal for the only favor 
he ever did us in all his days, if, indeed, he does it now ! 
I 'm afraid it 's too good to be true ! " 

" I shall know through Alonzo. I wrote him last night." 
"And didn't tell me! Why did you keep dark?" 
" I wished to get the truth first ; but you drew me out." 
" Well, the Lord knows I hope he '11 put it through ! 
And if he does, just drop that name, like a hot potato. It 
burns my pride and honor, I swan ! " said gay Claude, 
laying himself back at full length in the old arm-chair, 
and opening his mouth with a long, heart-full laugh. 

Bertha caught up the paper before her and went up the 
stairs, as Mr. Belmont entered the sitting-room. She trem- 
bled as she went, and her face was strangely white, but 
there was a burning light in her brown eyes, and a soft 
smile upon her delicate lips. 

She did not sit down in her chamber, but wandered rest- 
lessly to and fro. Then she went to the mirror and scruti- 
nized her countenance; but her eyes soon w T ent by her own 
shadow, and she saw T another face — the face that had fol- 
lowed her ten long, weary, struggling years! And Bertha 
looked into the mild, spiritual eyes, smiling faintly through 
the dark distance, as they had smiled in the low brown 
house with the long piazza, and her lips syllabled the 
name "Percy!" She had not brea'thed it before, since she 
stood at the bridal altar with Horace Stanhope. 



264 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

But now she was free — his sius had separated them for- 
ever ; and it was no wrong to breathe that cherished name. 
She was free to dwell in loving remembrance upon that 
face, but not free to wear his name, even if he were still 
unbound by silken fetters ; and it was relief to her long- 
caged spirit to flutter away from its cold prison, and wander 
at will in the warm sunshine of early years. 

He had in all probability forgotten her, the timid little 
child of fourteen, who had carried his memory in her heart, 
despite her efforts to shut it out, from a sense of duty and 
honor, and brought it up the long lane of the past to dwell 
upon Now without self-reproach ; he would perhaps never 
know the lasting impression of his noble life upon the green 
leaf of a few short days in the " long ago ; " but she was 
free to reflect now, and liberty was sweet. 

A breath of childhood days came over her as she stood 
there dreaming, with face bowed upon her hand — a feeling 
of youth, and hope, and happiness. 

He had never said he loved her, but Bertha felt its exist- 
ence, when she met his beaming eyes in those sun-bright 
days, when they dwelt beneath the same moss-covered roof; 
and had he been permitted to return to the low brown 
house with the long piazza, how different might have been 
her fate ! 

She was too sensitive to intercede in his behalf when Mr. 
Belmont received his written request ; she would have suf- 
fered martyrdom sooner than betray her heart-secret ; and 
a negative answer was returned. It sealed her doom ! 

Bertha shuddered as she reached this point, and turned 
away from the contemplation of her fate. 

Was it not strange, she mused, that his name had been 
sounded in her ear for the first time since that fatal nine- 
teenth of June ? — now that she was but just free to hear it 
spoken without an inward ache — a soul-longing and pain 



BEAUTY. 26*5 

that must have betrayed her to unsuspecting Claude, even 
though her face was concealed. 

Had it been uttered in the presence of Horace Stanhope, 
she doubted her firmness to sustain the shock. But now 
she was free ; and though Percy might be bound, she was 
innocent in heart in dwelling upon the memory of their 
early love, that budded far back in the silvery morn, and 
still blossomed on in the setting sunlight of ten long, 
weary, struggling years agone ! 



CHAPTER XLV. 



"old folks at home." — bertha's talents 
discussed. 

IT was a mild and sunny May morning. 
Mr. Eldon, senior, sat in his easy-chair beside an open 
window — an escape-valve for the white, perfumed cloud 
that curled upward from his parted lips, — watching, with 
evident satisfaction, the eagerness and activity of sprightly 
Edward Wilmer — Edalia's three-year-old — as he climbed 
up the chair-rounds, and contended for the late paper, over 
the tiny form of blue-eyed baby Eva, fast asleep in Mr. 
Redmond's arms. 

Two manly arms slipped from behind Edalia over her 
shoulders, crossing under her chin, and a loving voice ex- 
claimed : 

" A letter from Agnes, little wife." 

" Excellent ! Charming ! " 

"What? Let's have it, Ed," and Mr. Redmond threw 
down his paper. 
23 



266 

"Agnes is wedded to her early love, and comes to Caro- 
lina in September, to hibernate." 

" Good ! Agnes is a noble girl ; and, by Jupiter ! I once 
thought the little witch was bound to upset my air-castle." 

Walter smiled. 

" I owe Agnes a debt of gratitude, sir, for it was through 
her that I discovered the dawning of Edie's love. I per- 
mitted the current report of my betrothal to her, to mark 
the effect upon the genuine object of my hopes; and the full 
conviction of reciprocal affection well-nigh surprised me 
into a downright declaration." 

" Capital, by Jupiter ! But your pride got the ascendancy, 
eh ? I say, hang (Ed, you scamp, get off of my toe !) all 
lovers' pride ! But yonder comes Min, with her red cheeks 
and fun-loving eyes — the same old Minnie Montrose, for 
mischief and mirth. She sent me a snail, this morning, 
with a written request that I 'd ' try my fortune, for it was 
not good that man should be alone' — the gipsy." 

Minnie entered, leading Charlie, who locked arms with 
Ed right bravely in a rough-and-tumble exercise over the 
carpet. 

"Have you heard the news, good people?" 

" No — yes — the snail ? " 

" Ha ! ha ! he ! he ! — no. Colonel Henley led the amiable 
widow Tomlin to the hymenial altar at the seasonable hour 
of six, this morning, and they 're off to Niagara on a bridal 
tour." 

Mr. Redmond started bolt-upright. 

" Thun-derf Well, there could n't a-been a better match 
scared up between the two oceans. He may take his turn 
at the ' grindstgne,' now — eh, Wall, my boy? If she don't 
pepper his dish for 'im, I'm hanged ! I'll bet on the woman, 
by Jupiter ! " 

" Poor Tomlin ! " said Mr. Eldon, " a nobler boy never 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 267 

gave promise of noble things. I 'in told his wealth and 
extraneous influence won him his heartless bride; and his 
domestic life impelled him to ' fly to ills he knew not of/ 
rather than * bear the ones he had.' " 

"Pre-cisely! And there's many a poor fellow in the 
same fix. A termagant's tongue will lash 'most any man 
into kingdom come before this time ; and if Henley don't 
run the gauntlet, and pay dear for the whistle, there never 
was a Franklin. Charles would a-been a second Tomlin, if 
he'd had a Tomlin's wife — eh, Min ? All the Father 
Matthews, and salt in the sea, would n't a-saved 'im. Poor 
Tomlin ! I reasoned with him on his desperate course, a 
few days before that grim monster mania-a-potu sent him 
to his long home; and, said he: 

" 'Squire Redmond, I'll stick a pin there, to everything 
you 've said. God bless you, Squire, I know you 're right ; 
but I don't want to live, and I ain't fit to die: so I just 
split the difference, and go to heaven in a " horn." I say, 
Squire, if Job had shivered in my shoes, we never should 
SL-heard of him. No two ways about that.' 

" Well, all this won't justify him in the day of final ac- 
counts ; but Tomlin was no Socrates, and died the death of 
an Abner." 

"And moreover and furthermore," continued Minnie, 
adopting phraseology that smacked of the legal profession, 
" Peter is preparing an oration for the ' Glorious Fourth/ 
and sent to the city, by Charles, this morning, for Spurz- 
heim's Philosophy, and Combe's Constitution of Man." 

"Ha! ha! Well, I'm bound to hear that, by Jupiter! 
(Providence permitting.) I say, Walter, won't it be tall? — 
away up in the seventh story of human nature's habitation 
— a regular aeronautic expedition. The way he will dive 
into Webster, and bring up the grand progenitors, in such 
order as would make the old Lexicographers 'two eyes 



268 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

start from their spheres/ and Ignorance cry, 'a kingdom foi 
a horse.' 

" Peter speculates largely on a small capital, and verifies 
the assertion of the poet to a T : — 'a little learning is a 
dangerous thing.' What he has drank of the 'Pierian 
Spring ' won't stagnate for want of stirring. His acquire- 
ments are emphatically pro bono publico. I 'm afraid Peter 's 
destined to perpetual celibacy." 

" Like you, Uncle Ned ? — 'hem ! How does the snail 
prosper ? " 

" Humph ! reckon it 's doing pretty well, considering. I 
gave it a through-ticket on the aerial railway, and a deed 
1 signed, sealed, and delivered to itself, its heirs and assigns,' 
in the presence of Aunt Cora, witness to all out-doors." 

"Now?" 

" Fact, by Jupiter ! " 

" Then Ephraim is joined to his idols, in all conscience ! " 

" Point-blank ; you 've hit the nail plump on the head. 
By the way, Min, it 's just seven years to-day since you and 
Ed consulted the oracle." 

"/didn't." 

"Sure enough. But I'll bet two chincapins, you might 
have found another bug under that old maple." 

" 'Cause why ? " 

" I saw two there myself." The old gentleman's eyes 
twinkled. 

" Oh, ho ! — ' thereby hangs a tale.' And I '11 double the 
bet, that you ' saw' the letters made in the plate too." 

" Fiddlesticks ! I did n't land the bug in the meal." 

"Just so! but you left a ' land '-mark in the bottom, — say, 
Uncle Ned?" 

" Shan't do it ! I 'm counsel for defendant ; no State's 
evidence in me. Seen Ed's dressing-case, Min ? " 

"Never did till her wedding-day." 



BEAUTY. 269 

" W-h-e-w ! so there 's one woman who can keep a secret ! 
Well, that 's the very identical shell — the real Simon Pure 
— that Ed said grace over once upon a time. I had it fixed 
in that fashion so 's to ' keep her pure mind stirred up, by- 
way of remembrance.' Ha! ha! I say, bless the bug, by Ju — 

Oo ! oo ! Ed, you rascal, let 'e go my hair, 

'Cause, you see, I have n't, sir, a single bit to spare! " 

The old gentleman started up, amazed at the spontaneity 
of his poetic genius, and stepped about the room exultingly, 
with Ed and Charlie swinging to his coat-tails, and little 
Eva's big blue eyes shining over his shoulder. 

"Almost as good as Bert's, I declare," said Minnie, draw- 
ing down her mouth with affected solemnity. 

" The wise man tells us ' there is a time for all things,' 
and I have been biding mine. Here is news for friendship's 
ear, with your permission," said Walter, looking up from 
the paper before him. 

" What is that, pray ? " and Minnie stretched her neck to 
read the title. 

" The ' Williamsville Banner.' " 

"You selfish thing!" said Minnie, making a grab at the 
paper. 

"Hold on ! " and Walter put the paper behind him, pro- 
vokingly. " I 'm to be spokesman." 

" Well, hurry then, for I 'm walking on eggs." 

" Or a bed of hot ashes," suggested Mr. Redmond, shut- 
ting one eye and turning the other up. 

"'Buds and Blossoms' is the title of a work now in press, 
from the facile and vigorous pen of Bertha Belmont, well 
known in this section as ' Bertha the Beauty.' Our talented 
and accomplished correspondent very justly enjoys an ex- 
tensive reputation, ranking among the first authors of our 
country, though young in years ; and we are confident her 
23* 



270 BERTHA, THE EEAUTY. 

present forthcoming volume will sustain her renown as a 
writer. It will be issued at an early day. Any of our read- 
ers who would like to procure a copy of this new work can 
be furnished, just as soon as it shall be given to the public, 
by leaving their names with us. 

" There is a mournful, soul-touching beauty about the 
poetry of this lady, that appeals directly to the tenderest 
feelings of our nature. 

" Miss Belmont is a lady of rare taste and cultivation, 
and, to our fancy, one of the most original, natural, and 
beautiful poets of the day. She has recently taken a prize 
from the literati of the 'Athens of America.' " 

"Miss Belmont! What the deuce does that mean?" 
Mr. Redmond started up, and looked at Edalia for a solu- 
tion of the mystery. 

" I expect Bertha is divorced, uncle." 

" You ' expect ' ! What do you faioiv, I say ? " 

" Nothing ' fur shore,' as Aunt Cora says, but I 've had a 
hint from Bertha relative to her anticipations — that 's all." 

" Why, she could n't obtain one yet ; she deserted him." 

"She bound me over to keep the peace; but as the deed is 
no doubt done, it won't be a breach of confidence to speak 
now. Stanhope threatened to apply for a divorce from her 
if she did a't return to him, and I presume he has executed 
the threat." 

" Ha ! ha ! Well, that 's the best deed he ever did in 
his life, I haven't a doubt. I didn't think it was in him to 
be so charitable, by Jupiter ! The rascal 's after another to 
torment to death — I'll bet all the chincapins that drop 
next Fall. Found the game was up with Bertha, and 
shuffled the cards for a new cut. I reckon Bertha don't 
care, eh?" 

" I reckon not," said Edalia, with a queer smile about 
her firm mouth. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 271 

" Well now, I hope Belmont and Claude will mind their 
own business, and let her make her own choice next time," 
growled Mr. Redmond. 

"She won't marry another Yankee, I'll warrant!" laughed 
Minnie, clapping her hands, and giving Mr. Redmond's hair 
a pull over the chair-top. 

" 0-u : c-h ! you ought to marry a Yankee, to get the mis- 
chief taken out of you — you witch ! " 

"Stanhope applied 'on the ground of abandonment.' Does 
that leave Bertha free to marry again, uncle?" inquired 
Edalia. 

" Well, no — not morally free ; but the world winks at 
such marriages. If Stanhope marries again, then Bertha 
can obtain a divorce on Scriptural grounds. But I doubt 
if she would ever apply, even if he should rise to the sur- 
face again — she 's too shrinking." 

" Who is ' he,' Uncle Ned ? P-l-e-a-s-e tell, you old wise- 
acre. It won't do any hurt now ; Bertha is free," pleaded 
Minnie, sweetly, putting one arm around the old man's neck. 

" Oh, you may hug me much as you please, but you won't 
honey that secret out with sugar, by Jupiter ! " said Mr. 
Redmond, winking at the grate. 



CHAPTER XLVI. 



WHAT does Alonzo say?" inquired Mr. Belmont, with 
a half-smile about his mouth, but an anxious, doubt- 
ful expression in his eager eyes, as Bertha finished the long 
letter just received. 



272 

" I am free" answered Bertha, trying to look sober, but 
her eyes betrayed her. 

" Has the fellow really got a divorce ? " 

" Yes, sir ; Alonzo is reliable." 

" Well now, I 'm satisfied," said gay Claude. " I '11 for- 
give him for all the past on the strength of this one favor. 
I believe I really love the rascal, now that he 's out of the 
way. Dog if I was n't afraid I 'd come home some day and 
find the fellow had spirited you off again. He cheated us 
twice, and if he 'd come around the third time, I might 
have given him something that would put me in a close 
place. Now you are free from him, but not at liberty to 
put your neck in another noose — understand that, /shan't 
favor another suitor, you 'd better believe ! " 

Bertha looked him steadily in the eyes. 

" I know I am not free to marry again, in a moral sense ; 
but if I were, and had a thousand suitors, it would be as 
vain for you, or any one, to attempt to influence or control 
me, against my will, as it was easy in the past." 

"Ug! that steps on my toe!" grunted facetious Claude, 
wrinkling up his face ; " and yours too, landlord," nodding 
at his pleased father. "I reckon we won't meddle with that 
female Hercules any more till she gets ready to slip through 
-hey?" 

Mr. Belmont was shaking with inaudible laughter, and 
chewing rapidly. He gave a loud squirt from his full 
mouth towards the spittoon, and answered : 

" I shan't put my finger into any more pies. A burnt 
child dreads the fire, and if her next dish ain't well cooked, 
it won't be my fault. She may bake her own cake next 
time." 

" If she does, I '11 make it burn, I '11 bet ! " said Claude, 
frowningly. " I shan't agree to have any more brother-in- 
law, if he is a doctor — eh, sis? " 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 273 

" Oh, now I see the point," laughed Bertha. " Don't be 
alarmed about Zelmar, Bud ; he is n't of my religious faith, 
or nation. He 's harmless." 

"No; but didn't he tell you, last night, he 'd go with his 
wife to the church she preferred, and 'all that sort o' thing,' 
you know ? " 

" Precisely ; but I don't believe all I hear nowadays." 

"And then he's so handsome and highly educated — 
speaks a dozen languages, writes poetry, plays the piano, 
guitar, jews-harp, and dances like a duck in a summer 
shower. Love him a little — hey ? " 

" Ha ! ha ! haw ! " roared Mr. Belmont. 

" If Bertha ever marries again, I hope he will be a South- 
erner," said Mi*s. Belmont, smilingly. 

" Hem ! that ain't saying much for me ! " exclaimed the 
old man, looking over his shoulder at his wife, humorously. 

" But it is for your daughter," laughed the loving mother. 

" So the doctor's jig is up, is it ? " asked persistent Claude. 

" He '11 never be your relative — sure." 

"Well, now I feel better," said Claude, straightening 
himself up. " I like him well, as a man and friend, but I 
don't want any more brother-in-law around, unless — " He 
pursed up his mouth and looked intelligently at Bertha. 
"Halloo! what are you blushing about?" continued the 
teasing brother. 

" Curiosity, I suppose. ' Unless ' what ? " 

Claude shook his head threateningly at his father, and 
Mr. Belmont winked significantly back. 

"Unless Harry Herbert should turn up with the tide, 
some day." 

" Bless me ! You don't really mean it ? " 

"He's one of the best men in the world, and starved 
himself three days and nights, after you married that 
rascal." 



274 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" I know he 's good and worthy, but I don't love him." 
And Bertha's countenance testified to her truthfulness. 

" There, I 'm at sea again," said Claude, with a well-satis- 
fied smile. "I 'only did it to try your faith,' sis. Stanhope 
was so terribly jealous of that man, I thought perhaps he 
had provoked you into loving him. They say it does have 
that effect sometimes ; but here is one exception, I see. 
Herbert left town after you did, and was lost sight of. I 
reckon we '11 not hear of him again." 

And satisfied Claude went out, whistling, "I dream of 
all things bright." 

"Bertha the Beauty" lost the look of pain that had dwelt 
in her brown eyes through long years, after the close of her 
correspondence with Horace Stanhope. She enjoyed her 
liberty more, because her bonds hurt her pride and self- 
respect. She had been tied to a dishonest, godless mortal, 
and felt humbled in her own eyes. She was ashamed of 
him, and of herself for being a part of him. She had never 
felt so light-hearted as when she read Alonzo's affectionate 
letter. She was free now, even from his name. The law 
gave her the privilege of renouncing or retaining it; and 
Bertha decidedly preferred the first. 

Dr. Zelmar — the new suitor to whom Claude referred — 
colored furiously, and Bertha saw his hand tremble as he 
read the first poem accompanied by her changed name. 
He proposed immediately, and was rejected, as gently as a 
heart full of esteem and sympathy could refuse a favor. 
He returned the third time, and then removed from the city. 

Bertha destroyed every letter that bore the name of her 
late husband, and began life anew. She had no intention 
of ever entering into a second alliance — she did not con- 
sider herself free to do so in the sight of heaven. She was 
w r edded to literature, and the union was a happy one. 

A year passed away after our heroine's full freedom from 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 275 

Horace Stanhope. Her book had rendered her distinguished 
and popular. She had many stranger correspondents, both 
North and South ; and constant calls from persons curious 
to behold the young authoress. 

The Rev. Mr. Nettleton, of Batavia, N. Y., was one of 
her visitors. 

Claude improved his opportunity to inquire, with off-hand 
carelessness : 

" Did you know Horace Stanhope during his residence in 
your city ? " 

" I knew him well, by reputation, both there and else- 
where." 

" I knew him in North Carolina some years ago, for a 
short time. How is he succeeding in life ? " 

" He has succeeded in rendering himself odious, by his 
dishonesty and dissolute habits. He left Batavia between 
two days to elude the law ; and I 'm told, by a lady who 
was intimate with his wife — " 

"His wife? — married there, did he?" said Claude, try- 
ing to hide his delighted surprise and look indifferent. 

" No ; he was married when he came to Batavia." 

" Ah ! I heard from him during his stay there, but was 
not informed of his marriage. Who was his wife? 

" Miss Louisa Demming, of Rochester." 

" Nice lady ? " said Claude, carelessly. 

" She is said to have been a very quiet and nice woman 
— much respected by all who were acquainted with her. 
But the reputation of the man was not of the best kind. 
He was thought to be a very fast liver, and not at all cal- 
culated to set the Atlantic ocean on fire." 

" And what has become of the fast man ? " inquired 
Claude, with facetious indifference. 

" Well, he was engaged in the mercantile business in 
Batavia, and in process of time failed, and left the place in 



276 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

a clandestine manner — * between two days,' as they say of 
him — since which time no one there has had any knowl- 
edge of him. But there is a lady residing in Corfu who was 
on the most intimate terms with Stanhope's wife, who tells 
me, when last heard from, he was in Cleveland, Ohio, en- 
gaged in the photograph business. But I dare say he has 
failed by this time — that was two months ago," said Mr. 
Nettleton, with a spice of scorn and contempt for the "fast" 
man. 

" He was rather fast in Carolina," returned Claude, with. 
a humorous expression about his eyes, — " so fast, in fact, 
that he outstripped his good name, and left the title of 
Yankee in very bad odor in a Southern atmosphere. He 
seems to be peculiarly unfortunate." 

" Yes, in every respect ; for when in Batavia he was liv- 
ing with a second wife, though his first wife was still living, 
I 'in told." 

" Possible ! " Claude stooped to pick up something on 
the carpet, and the exercise reddened his cheeks. " Married 
twice, eh, — at his age? " 

" Only a short time to the first ; and if his second wife 
would follow the example of her ' illustrious predecessor,' it 
is thought it would be much to her advantage and honor. 
Perhaps she will, yet. They have been married but a few 
months." 

" Did you know aught of his first wife ? " persisted Claude, 
soberly. " I feel quite interested in the rascal's history. 
What was she — her name — and where from? I liked the 
fellow well at one time." 

" So did every one, at first acquaintance. He was gentle- 
manly — very — but could n't bear scrutiny. He was a 
natural rogue, and had no religion to modify his misfortune. 
As to his first wife, I know nothing with regard to her, only 
that she is yet living — or was, a few months ago. Stanhope 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 277 

was a clerk in New York city; from there he went to Buf- 
falo, and engaged in the jewelry business, and — " 

" I understood he was cashier in ' The People's Money- 
Saving Bank' of that city," interrupted Claude, with open 
eyes. 

" Well, I don't know about that; hardly think it can be 
true, as it would, in all probability, have made a noise 
before he left, judging from subsequent events. He could n't 
get that situation there now, if he ever held it — I predict," 
returned Mr. Nettleton, dryly. 

Claude Belmont, the jovial, lay flat down upon the carpet, 
and rolled as far under the piano as the music-stool would 
allow, when the hall-door closed upon Mr. Nettleton. 

" Well," said Claude, his black hair tangled over his fore- 
head, and his good-natured mouth spread with soul-satisfac- 
tion, "I've got the whole book of Genesis, now; and if I 
don't pity that Louisa Demming, of Rochester, dog me ! " 

" I don't see any symptoms of it in your face, then," 
returned Bertha, her brown eyes shining with suppressed 
mirth fulness. 

" Oh, it 's interesting. I 'm glad the fellow has a com- 
forter. I'm only sorry for her! I hope she'll hold him 
back from going too fast!" cried Claude, bursting into a 
laugh of surprising volume. 

" If she does, she '11 deserve to be canonized as a saint ! " 
said Bertha, softly. " And just to think he wrote me, after 
he married her ! I received a letter from Batavia ! " 

" That 's the joke — don't you see ! " cried the young 
brother, rubbing his nose with his thumb. " He would 
have left her 'between two days,' and come South, if you 'd 
given him a bit of encouragement ! Wonder what Louisa 
would think to know that ? " 

"I hope she'll never be disturbed by knowing more of 
his wickedness than she sees in his daily life. She has 



278 

my best wishes and sympathy, I know ! " said Bertha the 
Beauty. 

" All I marvel at is, that he did n't come, anyhow. Dog 
if I did n't fear I 'd have the rascal to shoot before he 'd 
quit tormenting us, and get my neck stretched for the 
excellent shot!" — blearing his great black eyes at her, 
ludicrously. 

Bertha turned away, with a look of pain in her white 
face, which Claude fortunately construed into affection for 
him. She knew why Horace Stanhope had not molested 
her in her new home. It was a black story of sin and 
crime she had recently learned from one who was wholly 
ignorant of the relationship that she had once borne to the 
guilty man ; but worthless and criminal as her late husband 
was, she would not expose him even to a brother, but leave 
him to his Maker. 

"I wonder if he won't send you his photograph! He 
don't know that you are aware of his marriage. Alonzo 
says he has n't heard of him but once since he left New 
York city, you know ; and, of course, the fellow thinks you 
are in the dark. What a thing it is, to be distinguished ! " 
said Claude, proudly. " But for that, we should n't have 
seen the Rev. Nettleton. Well, if the rascal does send his 
photograph, I hope it '11 represent him going it 'fast,' ' be- 
tween two days ! ' " added Claude, as he went out holding 
his nose comically. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 279 



CHAPTER XLVII. 

A STARTLING LETTER. — BERTHA'S HEART-SECRET IS 
EXPOSED. 

FIFTEEN years had gone — fifteen years ! and " Bertha 
the Beauty" was twenty-nine. The world said nine- 
teen I and Bertha smiled strangely. Her heart was young 
and peaceful, but the way back to her fourteenth year looked 
a century long to retrospection's eye ; and our heroine won- 
dered that wrinkles of age had not been creased upon her 
brow, during her journey over that long, weary way. 

Bertha's heart felt unusually young, as she lay there on 
the parlor -sofa that warm May Sabbath afternoon, and 
looked away back through the microscope of memory, at 
the low brown house with the long piazza. 

Would she ever see " the dear old place where first they 
met," again ? Bertha thought she would. Edalia and 
Minnie were urgent, and Bertha had promised to come, 
ere long. 

Our heroine's pleasant dreams were broken by the hasty 
entrance of Claude, followed by both parents, with curiosity- 
lighted faces. 

" See here," said Claude, dangling a letter between finger 
and thumb, " I 've got something for you. It comes from 
Percy Ormund's native city, and I have a presentiment 
it bears his name. Jehu ! what are you coloring up so 
about?" 

" Oh, poh ! Give me the letter, you brute ! " 

" Well, dog: we, if I have n't touched bottom, and come 
ashore at last ! " said Claude, exultingly, catching his knee 
in both hands, and hopping about the room on one foot. 



280 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"Who is it?" inquired Mr. Belmont, as Bertha broke the 
seal with fluttering ringers and turned to the signature. 

" Bud has guessed it, upon my word ! " exclaimed Bertha, 
the crimson of sensibility flooding her face. 

"I swan!" said Claude, dropping down beside her, and 
putting his head between hers and the letter. " I hope he 's 
married ; but I 'm afraid he is not — hey ? " 

" How can I read through your head ! " said Bertha, 
giving it a thump that sounded mellow and started him 
to his feet. 

It was a long, familiar, affectionate letter, full of the fra- 
grance of other days, and wholly rejuvenated the reader's 
life. 

Percy Ormund was still unmarried — a bachelor of 
thirty -four. He had never forgotten the brown eyes of 
the little girl he had met under the moss-covered roof of the 
low brown house with the long piazza, fifteen years ago ! Her 
memory had followed him down the years, as his had her. 
He had travelled five years after Mr. Belmont's negative 
reply to his proposition ; and Time wove a thick web of dark- 
ness between them. He had learned her existence and local- 
ity through her writings, and this letter was the result. 

"I wish he 'd kept it to himself, then ! " said Claude, with 
a pout, as he glanced at Bertha's bright and burning face. 

"What for?" 

" Because I see which way the compass points now ; and 
the wind sets fair for both ships. He wonders that you are 
not married, and wants to know the why and wherefore. I 
can see through this letter — it 's just as clear as mud ! " 

"Don't imitate somebody's example, and go too 'fast'," 
was our heroine's advice, with mirthful eyes. "But I 
thought you liked him? " 

" So I do, more than any other man outside of home ; but 
I don't want you to marry any one — that 's all ! " 



281 

" Just wait till I have a chance to 'slip through' ! " ex- 
claimed Bertha, trying to hide her fluttering heart under a 
gay mask. 

" Oh, I see which way that road leads ! " said Claude, 
with a half smiling grunt, as he looked at his sister's red 
cheeks, and twisted his mouth at his amused father; — 
"straight down fifteen years, and breaks off in the low brown 
house with the long piazza — hum ! " 

" And if you 'd let me alone, those fifteen years might not 
lie so dark between," she answered, mournfully. 

" Heigho ! You '11 own up, then ? Clear beat, and full 
surrender, eh?" 

"I shan't make any confession without a priest," said 
Bertha, with a face that spoke louder than language. 
Claude frowned, and winked at his father. 
" Well, hang me, if I suspected the boy's intention, or any- 
body else's feelings, or I would have taken the youngster 
back, and had the business fixed right ! He was a fine 
young fellow— I liked him. Why the deuce didn't you 
speak up for the boy?" said Mr. Belmont, with twinkling 
eyes. 

"Me?" exclaimed Bertha, springing to her feet, spasmo- 
dically. She was gone from their presence right suddenly. 
" Well, that I call romance in real life," said Mr. Bel- 
mont, looking very much pleased, as he ran his fingers 
through his hair ; " I see how the land lies with her — she 
can't hide it ! " 

" That 's clear as spring water," returned Claude, " and 
nobody ever suspected her! And now, after all she has 
refused, she '11 take him when he offers, and our home will 
be a tripod again ! I like the man well, but I don't relish 
the thought of his stealing sister away. I know what home 
is without her ! " and exercised Claude kicked the carpet 
with his heel as he walked the floor. 
24* 



282 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Well, I shan't say a word about it, pro or con," re- 
sponded the old man, spitting lustily through the window, 
and blackening the gravel in the yard-walk; "and I advise 
you to keep out of another scrape. Bertha 's sensible enough 
to choose for herself, and strong enough to walk without 
support. I guess they '11 fix it right to suit all hands ; and 
it 's no use to flinch before the fire gets hot. I say, let 'em 
alone. Such constancy merits reward." 

" I don't believe she '11 be justifiable by law in marrying 
again in her present situation," exclaimed Claude, catching 
at this straw. "I know'nothing about the law of divorce 
here, but under the law of New York he is illegally mar- 
ried ; I know that. And though sis is free from his lawful 
power, I don't see how she can marry legally. I hope she 's 
hemmed in, by George!" ejaculated Claude, drawing up 
one foot, and keeping it suspended in the air a moment, 
under the influence of this fresh hope. 

" I 'd rather she 'd wed Percy than any other man, if he 
would n't take her away," said the loving mother. 

"That 'sit! There's where the shoe pinches, don't you 
see ? I like the man well enough to have him for a bro- 
ther ; and if he '11 make a bargain to suit me, I won't say 
another word in opposition: for if he's the same Percy I 
knew fifteen years ago, he'll stick to his bargain. Well, 
we '11 let matters work quietly a while, and see how the new 
suit fits, before we grumble at the pattern, that 's all." 

And so it was decided. 

When Bertha escaped from the parlor, like a frightened 
bird, she sprang up the stairs and into her quiet chamber^ 
turning the bolt after her. She was safe now from all pry- 
ing eyes and teasing tongues, and a broad smile of heart- 
sunshine streamed from the fair face that shone from the 
mirror-surface, as she stopped mechanically before it — such 
a smile as had never lighted up that lovely face before in 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 283 

all the past. Bertha thought she saw some beauty iu that 
beaming countenance now; and, indeed, the whole earth 
seemed full of beauty and bloom to our happy-hearted heroine. 

After all the black clouds and beating storms that had 
blighted her young life, she had come forth from the gloomy 
shadows of fate and stood in the bright sunshine of fortune. 
Weeping she had endured for a night — a long night of 
fifteen weary years! — but joy had come in the morning of 
a new and glorious hope. 

She felt confident of the design of Percy Ormund ; it 
was a felt fact without tangible words. She knew she was 
loved by the only heart she had ever cared to win, and her 
restless spirit — that had wandered the weary way of life 
tired and lone so long — folded up its pilgrim feet and sank 
down to rest at last, in a sweet and sun-bright home. 

And yet not quite at rest, for the awaking from grief to 
gladness was so sudden and surprising, that the sweet shock 
quivered along the delicate wires of her frail being, and 
sent a telegram to the sighing soul, of "Hope resurrected/' 
that burdened it a while with great joy! 

She could not sit quietly, and her tiny feet wandered over 
the carpet, while her thoughts ran wild through the wilder- 
ness of departed days. Bertha did not look forward — she 
did not reach after the To-Come ; the rivulet of her dreams 
ran along the wayside of the past, and washed the dust of 
years from the green things that were gone. 

She saw a Providence in all that had bruised and blighted 
in the long weary journey of her fate-shadowed life. 

But for her sufferings, she might not have turned from 
the vanities of the world, and been "saved by grace;" she 
might have gone down a blossom-bordered way without 
turning her worldly eyes to the stars, and fallen into the 
dark waves of Jordan, with no sustaining hand to guide her 
fearlessly through. 



284 

But for her matrimonial misfortunes, she would not have 
"learned in suffering what she taught in song"; and but for 
her songs, she would not have been heard and found by 
Percy Ormund, in all human probability. 

Bertha said softly, " God moves in a mysterious way, His 
wonders to perform." She knelt down at the bedside, and 
asked Him who had brought her through the years "out of 
great tribulation," to forgive her past repinings and ingrat- 
itude, and strengthen her heart to walk without fainting 
through all the future. 

Ah, Bertha did not see the black wings that brooded over 
that future, or her glad and grateful soul would have sunk 
down fainting then ! She did not look through the golden 
light of the present, and see the dark-browed Fate that had 
followed her along the path of the by-gone, frowning just 
beyond the shining borders of a short To-day. 

" Beloved, think it not strange the fiery trial that is to 
try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you," 
was not in all the thoughts of our happy-hearted heroine. 

Bertha fancied the "fiery trial" was held in the past, 
and the great Arbiter of human destiny had given her a 
full discharge from the further persecutions of grim-faced 
Fate. 

Percy Ormund's design in addressing our heroine by let- 
ter, after the lapse of fifteen years, was soon made manifest 
by frequent communications and unequivocal words. 

Bertha told him all, — her past history and present situa- 
tion, — foreseeing his purpose in renewing the friendship of 
early youth ; and ere the glorious summer was ended, and the 
gold and crimson of autumn came, " Bertha the Beauty " 
was the betrothed bride of her first and only love. 

Bluer looked the blue skies, and greener glittered the 
green earth to the beaming eyes of our beautiful heroine, as 
the bright days glided by, festooned with flowers from the 



BERTH A, THE BEAUTY. 285 

gay garden of a newly-blooming heart, watered w T ith the 
cool dew of reciprocal love. 

But ere the autumn was ended, the black wings of her 
Fate were stretched wide above her hapless head, and the 
great light that had glowed in her face a little while, dropped 
silently away into sombre shadows. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 



CONSCIENTIOUS SCRUPLES. — CLAUDE BELMONT S 
CONFESSION. 

I SAY, sis, how does the suit progress ? " said gay Claude, 
one day, after secretly watching Bertha's sober face. 

" Finely," she said, with a rising blush. 

"Engaged yet, eh?" 

" Oh yes," — with a sickly smile. 

" Hey ? " Claude sprang up spontaneously, but sat down 
immediately, trying to look indifferent and cool. " When 
is Percy coming up ? " 

" Next spring." 

" Well, that 's a decent length of time. I was fearful 
he 'd hurry matters. Do you know it will be necessary for 
you to obtain a divorce before you can legally marry ? " 

" I do, now." 

" How did you find it out, you close head ? " 

" From my pastor." 

" You did ? Been consulting him ? — he 's no lawyer." 

" No ; but he 's something better ; and, besides, he has 
learned the law on that point." 

"Ahem!" Claude lay back and whistled a while, with 
both hands grasping his coat-collar, and an indefinable 



286 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

glitter in his dark eyes. " You '11 have to apply immedi- 
ately, to be ready by spring — takes some time to settle such 
business." 

He glanced at her serious face sideways. 

" I shall never marry while Horace Stanhope lives, Bud," 
she said, solemnly. 

" Hey ? " His chair came forward with a force that made 
the floor ring, and his eyes widened and snapped wonder- 
fully. "What the deuce is up now? Why do you back 
out?" 

"It is written, 'She that putteth away her husband, and 
marrieth again,' violates the seventh commandment. 'The 
wife is bound by the law so long as her husband liveth,' 
and not until she is divorced. Also, 'Let not the wife depart 
from her husband ; but and if she depart, let her remain 
unmarried.' Is not that too plain to be misunderstood by 
any one who desires to do right ? " 

" Hallelujah ! " shotted Claude, throwing his head back 
and his heels up. " That 's the best sermon I ever heard in 
my life ! Any more of the same sort, sis ? I want you 
pinned tight in a scriptural sheet, so 's to leave no loop-hole 
for conscience to creep out at a pinch — hey ? " 

" You selfish thing ! " said Bertha, smiling in spite of her- 
self ; "just wait till you're placed in my position, and then 
you '11 learn sympathy." 

" Hurt you much ? " laughed Claude, dipping down, and 
diving into her eyes. " So you won't apply next court ? " 

" Never ! " ■ 

" Does Percy know it ? " 

" Percy thinks it 's right." 

" Oh, ho ! And if he had n't, he might have convinced 
you — hey ? " 

" If he had n't, it would not have been wrong." 

" Jiminy ! is that your faith ? How does he take it ? " 






BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 287 

"Like St. Peter at the cross — as a good Christian bears 
a burden." 

"Bravo! Well, that's just the opinion I had formed of 
the man, and I've been wondering -how the matter would 
end, though I kept mum. I know most people would have 
cleared that fence at one bound ; but I thought a true 
Christian's garment would be pretty apt to get hitched on 
the upper rail. I know it 's all right and fair, as the world 
goes, — thousands have done the deed, from the beginning 
of the world till now, — but whoever examines the root of 
the matter from an earnest desire to walk in the 'straight 
and narrow way,' must see it is morally wrong and socially 
corrupt. In my opinion, if such marriages were prohibited 
by law, there would be fewer divorces in the land. 'So long 
as you both shall live ' — to which one assents at the bridal 
altar — cannot be expunged by a human hand ; it 's engraved 
on the tablet of eternity. I would n't wed in your situa- 
tion, or marry a divorced wife, however beautiful and good 
and dear she might be; but I'd wait for her till the last 
bell sounded for prayers, if I loved her as I think somebody 
does you, from the number of letters that pass ! I should 
think that fellow would find something else to do, in his 
position, besides courting every day, at such a distance ! " 
said Claude, peeping roguishly under at Bertha's blooming 
face. 

" Percy will wait," she said, softly. 

" And you will wait — eh ? " 

"I will." 

" And if that rascal never dies ? " he suggested. 

" I am not waiting for him to die," she said, hastily, with 
a little shiver. " I hope he will live until he 's prepared for 
a brighter and better world than this." 

" You wish him a long life, then ? Dog if I don't be- 
lieve he '11 be the last man on this terrestrial sphere, if the 



288 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Lord grants him that lease ! I 'm afraid his conscience is 
seared ; he 's married illegally ! " 

"I know that now; but I was not aware of the fact 
when — " 

" When what ? " queried Claude, watching her crimsoning 
cheek at right-angles. 

" When I entered into a second engagement." 

"You might prosecute the rascal for bigamy," said Claude, 
with twinkling eyes. 

" No, no ! " exclaimed our heroine, in a nutter. " I am 
not his wife ! " 

"Oh, ho ! that hurts, does it? No, thank the Lord, he's 
got no right to you, sis ; but you could get the fellow into 
trouble, if you wished." 

"I shan't trouble him, then, — he's safe, so far as I'm 
concerned." 

" Well, what are you waiting for, if you don't want the 
fellow to die?" 

" God's will, and a happier world ! " said Bertha, bravely, 
looking firmly into his sober eyes. " I never thought seri- 
ously on this subject, until Percy waked me from dream- 
ing," she continued, smiling faintly, " and — " 

" And if Percy should insist now, you 'd get a divorce, 
hey?" 

"Never ! I thought I was wholly free, and the example 
of thousands, including ministers of the gospel, justified me 
in marrying again. I never analyzed the flower and found 
it a poisonous plant. I always found it a great convenience 
in softening refusals to others, to hint at my position, and 
decline to be convinced by argument. I was willing to be 
sceptical then, but now it hurts ! " 

" Where at?" inquired Claude, peeping under playfully. 

" Here ! " said Bertha, tapping one small finger quickly 
over her heart, and coloring deeply. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 289 

Ail expression of pain dwelt in the brother's dark eyes, a 
moment ; then he said, with apparent lightness : 

" Oh, it '11 all come right, sis ; it won't last long ; no 
cause for feeling troubled. Percy is safe, and you — " 

" It is n't that ! " she interrupted. " I felt free before, but 
now I feel smothered, caged. I seem to have a great net 
over me that I can't shake off." And Bertha wriggled her 
slender shoulders impulsively, with a contracted brow. 

" I can shake it off mighty easy, I '11 bet ! " said Claude, 
catching her around the waist and tossing her towards the 
ceiling several times. 

" Gone, ain't it, hey ? " he asked, mischievously, as he set 
her down. 

" No, and never will be by human agency ! Oh, if you 
had n't urged me ! " she cried, piteously, dropping her face 
in her hands, and bursting into irrepressible tears. 

Claude Belmont, the jovial, was on his knees, with his 
arms around her, in an instant. 

" I 'm sorry, sis ! The Lord knows I wish I had n't ! I 
wished it long ago, for that matter ! And that 's why I kept 
mum now. I was n't going to get my fingers burnt again, 
' I swan' ! " said Claude, trying to cheer her up, with affected 
gayety. 

" If you did n't care about it," continued Claude, " 't would 
suit me to a notch! for just as like as not, Percy wouldn't 
consent to let you live here; and then — " 

" Yes, he would." 

" Did he say as much ? " 

" Yes. It was all settled. He would have consulted my 
feelings." 

" Bless him ! If he said so, he 'd do it. I always liked 
the man, but I 'd like it a little better if you loved me the 
best. You see I 'm a bit jealous — got greenish eyes too — 
hey ? " 

25 T 



290 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" You selfish fellow, you know I love you, like all the 
world ! " 

u Over the left, you know ! Want to run off with that 
scamp, and leave me to eat dirt, when he don't love you 
half as well as I do ! " said Claude, turning up his nose, and 
stretching his mouth and eyes ludicrously. 

Bertha laughed irresistibly, with great tears glittering in 
her eyes. 

" Here I am, an old bach of twenty-seven, and don't care 
a snap for the girls, ' or auy other man,' just because I 've 
got a naughty little sis that I like better ! ' r said Claude, 
kissing both wet eyes and small mouth with loud smacks ; 
" and I shan't marry either, so long as that same little sis 
is out of other fellows' claws, and she don't care enough for 
me to keep from feeling hurt because she cau't run off with- 
out breaking the Decalogue all to smash ! There — there ; 
don't cry any more ! " he said, soothingly, as Bertha's lips 
trembled again. "Percy will be faithful, I know, and if 
it 's the Lord's will you 're waiting for, I think He '11 reward 
you after a while. And if that rascal never dies — " 

" There 's ' light beyond the clouds,' " said Bertha, bravely. 

" Yes ; and I believe you 've got grace enough in this 
little body, not to break your heart for what Providence 
decrees. I" should collapse immediately, to see you moping 
around in 'a green and yellow melancholy.' And then 
you 've got somebody to love besides me, you know," said 
Claude, squeezing her around the waist with both arms ; 
" and goodness knows, you've had more than your share of 
affection in this world already. You won't feel hurt about 
it any more ? — keep a stiff upper lip, and just wait pa- 
tiently, and see what the will of the Lord is — hey ? " 

" I will — I will ! " said Bertha, gulping down something 
that went hard, and kissing his loving mouth through his 
moustache, with her arms clinging around his neck. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 291 

" Bravo ! I thought you'd come out all right ! I know 
something about the mechanism of this little machine," 
tapping her shoulder lightly ; " mighty small and frail to 
look at, but strong as fury when it runs against a snag — 
I swan!" said Claude, bounding up, and going out with a 
gay whistle. 

Claude Belmont bore the reputation of being "the most 
devoted brother the sun ever shone on ; " and the world was 
right. Many a bright eye had vainly tried to wing an 
arrow to his heart ; but Claude was invulnerable. And 
yet the archers still bent their bows. Would he ever be 
struck? Bertha wondered, and hoped he would not, until 
after her engagement to Percy Ormund. Now the secret was 
betrayed, and Bertha cried over it when Claude could not 
see the tears. 

And Claude Belmont, the jovial, went up to his room, 
whistling ; but when there, the gay mask fell off, and he 
wept secret drops of sympathy for his sister's sufferings. 
He knew how she was pained by her strong but ineffectual 
efforts to conceal her feelings ; and the brother's loving 
heart grieved for her in secret, and ran over with seeming 
sunshine, when Bertha was by to catch the beams ! 

Percy Ormund did not " come up next spring," as Ber- 
tha had said, for the hoarse thunder of War was rumbling 
fearfully through the land, and Percy was captain of a 
company of brave volunteers preparing for the emergency. 



292 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY 



CHAPTER XLIX. 



CLAUDE. 

IT was a terrible day when the first "invader of the sa- 
cred soil " fell, and Colonel Ellsworth lay dead beneath 
the Confederate flag, at the Marshall House, and Jackson, 
his destroyer, fell, shot and brutally mangled by the furious 
and savage Zouaves. 

Bertha sprang from her couch of dreams — awakened by 
the unusual souud without — and peered through the blinds. 

"What a scene ! Hundreds of foreign-looking " boys in 
blue," with bayonets glittering in the early May morning 
light, — a white flag shivering on a short staff, — innumerable 
black faces, with wide mouths stretched from ear to ear, and 
white eyes dancing with gladness all around, and the Star- 
spangled Banner waving over all, with the kettle-drum and 
fife racking the beaten air. 

Bertha looked at the glittering steel, and thought, with a 
shiver, " Percy may meet them ! " 

She made a hasty toilet, and descended to the hall. 

"Be jabers, an' they won't hurt ye — you needn't be 
afraid, young leddy," said Paddy, eying our heroine as 
she stood upon the street-step and looked after the marching 
soldiers. 

Bertha judged her countenance had awakened the sym- 
pathy of the kind-hearted Irishman who looked at her so 
pityingly and essayed to comfort the little stranger, and she 
smiled faintly. 

"Be me sowl, an' there ain't no danger in 'em — faith, an' 
it's meself that says it — arrah ! " said Pat, his admiring 
eyes devouring her fair face, with the great shadow over it. 



BERTHA 



BEAUTY. 293 



"Thank you; I 'm not afraid," said Bertha, as she turned 
away. " For myself" she added, as she closed the hall-door 
behind her ; " but, oh, for him ! for him ! " 

But our heroine was terribly afraid for more than Percy 
Orniund before the shades of night closed around ; for rumor 
ran that the desperate Zouaves would ransack and burn the 
town ere the light of another morning, in revenge for their 
colonel's death. But the morning dawned, after a long, 
weary night, and " one woe was past " for our heroine, and 
the town at large. 

But one fear followed fast upon the heels of a departed 
one during that long, struggling, and bloody period, " the 
War for the Union," and Bertha said to Claude one day : 

" Won't you have to go, now that we are within the lines?" 

" Reckon not," caressing his upper lip ; "shan't till I 'm 
forced — certing-le! I 'm a non-combatant under the cir- 
cumstances. Nobody left to take care of you — don't you 
see ? I was always opposed to secession — I see the end from 
the beginning — and I have n't a doubt but the leaders will 
acknowledge their folly when the war is over, if they have 
any breath left ; I '11 confess it for them in advance, and 
take the responsibility. But I shan't fight them for it, if I 
know myself, and I think I do, that deep. Pretty-looking 
fellow I should be to pop Percy over!" said Claude, stretch- 
ing his eyes soberly. 

" Oh, don't, please ! " 

"Don't please? Well, that's what I like to do; but I 
won't, if you say so. No, no ; blood is thicker than water, 
and friendship something more than a name; and I shan't 
volunteer to fight my own people, if I do think and know 
they are wrong — foolishly wrong, for they are destroying 
themselves, like Ephraim. They '11 see it after a while, 
when it 's too late, and perceive how vain their hopes now 
are of foreign aid. England and France won't interfere 
25* 



294 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

with our domestic difficulty, unless they can come in and 
capture the whole household — depend upon that — and their 
aid is the sole dependence of the South. John Bull and 
Monsieur Francais are not very disinterested animals, and 
unless they can pick the golden fleece, they '11 keep their 
hands off, I '11 bet ye ! If the North and South will just 
turn in and swallow each other, then old Johnny and Frog- 
eater will pounce down and make our eagle squeal — be 
jabers ! " said Claude, rubbing his head as though he 'd got 
a blow. " I 'm a Union man because I love the South, and 
I 'd be shot down before I 'd fire a gun at my old home. 
But if foreign powers interfere with old Uncle Sam, I 
would n't mind giving 'em a dig ! " added Claujde, looking 
daggers at a foreign foe and turning up his nose at Bertha. 

" And if you went, I 'd go too — that 's certain." 

"Put on jacket and cap, and shoulder your musket — 
hey ? " inquired the young man, dropping down on the car- 
pet, and laying his head back upon her arm. 

"I 'd follow as hospital nurse, like those women who go 
draggling through the mud after every regiment that comes 
in — (for it rains whenever there 's a military movement) — 
poor things ! " 

" Then what a lucky hap it was that you and Percy 
didn't get spliced last spring; for the rebel talked square 
up for Southern independence, in that kiss-me-quick letter 
he smuggled through the lines ; and while there 's a Fed- 
eral bayonet in the field, and he 's afloat, that Confederate 
captain of volunteers will fight — ha ! ha ! Should n't won- 
der a bit if the ' Grayback ' climbed clear up the ladder of 
distinction before the war ends, and comes bobbing around 
here after a while as General Ormund, C. S. A. — whew!" 
said Claude, pulling her face down to his with both hands. 

" If he lives he '11 distinguish himself, no doubt," replied 
Bertha, softly. * 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 295 

"Oh, he '11 live through it all, I feel it in ray bones — 
may get scratched just enough to be brought up to the 
hospital here for you to nurse — going to look for him after 
every big battle — hey ? " 

" I reckon I '11 find him, if he 's brought here ; or any 
other old-time friend." 

" Horace, mayhap ! " he suggested, with a twinkle of his 
upturned eyes. 

Bertha laughed outright ; the idea was so original and 
preposterous. Horace Stanhope go to the war ! It was too 
much for her to think of without a risible eruption. 

" Seems to me," he said, holding his mouth with finger 
and thumb, " you have n't a very exalted opinion of that 
fellow's bravery and patriotism. Like as not he '11 outstrip 
Kelley and McClelland, and lead the United States forces 
'on to Richmond' yet! Who knows?" said Claude, 
scrambling up from the floor, and disappearing, with both 
hands holding his sides. 

The brother's object was accomplished ; he had driven 
the shadows from her face for the time. 



CHAPTER L. 

AFTER THE BATTLE. — UNDER-GROUND MAIL. 

THAT awful twenty-first of July, 1861 . 
Bertha heard the heavy cannon booming all through 
that solemn Sabbath from the distant battle-field of Bull 
Run, and her aching heart quivered at every sound. 

" Manassas is captured — the rebels are whipped — their 
stronghold is taken by the Yankees ! " was bruited abroad 
as the night closed in. 



296 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

What a weight the human heart can bear, and not be 
broken beneath the mighty burden! 

Bertha lay and tossed to and fro, now starting from a 
frightful dream when tired nature sank away through sheer 
weariness ; and now pressing her aching eyes deep down in 
the pillow, as a mental vision arose before them until the 
morning light. And then she looked forth upon a scene 
that beggars all description. 

Dirty, ragged, shoeless, hatless, tangle-haired, swearing, 
hungry - looking Union soldiers, without arras, lined the 
side- walks as far as the eye could reach from her chamber- 
window — their bare feet submerged in the full gutters, and 
a dismal rain beating piteously upon their much-abused 
uniforms. Some were nibbling " hard tac," with occasional 
draughts from a suspicious - looking canteen ; others con- 
signed McDowell to uncomfortably hot quarters for a 
" traitor;" and a large number were stretched at full length, 
coiled into semicircles, or flat of their backs, with knees 
and noses upturned towards the watery clouds, upon the 
muddy pavement. 

Bertha had never witnessed such a scene before, and her 
eyes dilated with astonishment. Had those miserable-look- 
ing "Yanks" whipped the " Rebs," and taken possession of 
their stronghold ? she wondered. If they had, our heroine 
thought " one more such victory, and the Government was 
ruined! " They certainly had been "saved as by fire" ; and 
Bertha thought their raiment bore strong evidence of having 
been much injured by wood! 

" What does this mean ? " asked Bertha, bounding half 
dressed into the breakfast-room, with eyes round and rolling. 

" Could n't find a good place to sleep at Manassas, and the 
Rebs poisoned the water ! " said Claude, rubbing the side of 
his nose soberly. 

" Percy's kind heart could n't accommodate 'em with 



297 

lodgings fit for soldiers, and sent 'em back to town for 
comfortable quarters. Beauregard's and Johnson's families 
filled all the vacancies in 'Cousin Sallie's' hotel, and the 
old lady could n't take in strangers. What are you blinking 
about?" asked Claude, puckering up his mouth as though 
for a whistle. 

" Why, I thought the Union had broken the back-bone 
of the Rebellion yesterday, and it would n't ever be able 
to stand alone again ! " 

" So did ' we, us, and company ' ; but it turned out to be 
only a spare rib ; and Jo Johnson, the rascal, came up in 
the nick of time and splintered it, and doctored the patient 
until it got strong enough to engage in a foot-race, with its 
old master Jeff looking on for amusement. But the 'gray- 
backs ' could n't catch the ' blue boys,' — they beat the 
Rebs at that game. They left 'em in the lurch and got back 
home safe and sound, a great deal lighter than they left," 
said Claude, nodding his head exultingly at Bertha, over 
the " Yankee trick " played on the Rebs by the " blue 
boys." 

"Where are you going ? — breakfast is ready!" said 
Claude, looking after her with a long face and laughable 
eyes, as Bertjia went out with one hand over her mouth and 
the other pulling at her curls. 

Mrs. Belmont and Bertha stood at the window, looking 
out upon the wild and awful scene. 

Squads of soldiers, with filthy garments and tattered 
banners, — careworn women with dirty babies, eating beef 
and crackers on the side-walk with men who had lost all 
the seeming of soldiers, saving the language, — a few scat- 
tering muskets, leaning against trees, looking as though 
they had " fought their last battle,"— and the restless rain 
drizzling over all. 

" Jewilikins ! ain't she a beauty ? " said a wide-eyed sol- 



298 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY 



dier, looking back over his shoulder at Bertha, who had 
not before observed him. 

"Beats creation all to flinders! " exclaimed his brother in 
arms, kissing his hand towards the window that framed the 
fair face. 

Bertha closed the shutters. 

" Tell yeou what, old lady," cried a boy in blue to a fe- 
male of African descent on the opposite side of the street, 
" we Yanks got licked like blazes this bout — don't deny it. 

D my eyes, if them Rebs don't fight like h ! whoop ! 

Had a big fight and a long slide, and no whiskey tew lean on 
— ke-oop ! Oh, good Goddle-mity, a-i-n-t I glad I 'm a-livin' 
now ! " 

And the brave soldier lifted one foot clear of the pave- 
ment, and bent so far backward, in hug-himself delight for 
being still in the flesh after his "long slide" from a "big 
fight," that Bertha listened to hear his head bump upon the 
law of gravitation ! 

But the Union ship, well laden with corn and rye, up- 
righted with a shiver and jerk, and dived forward with a 
broad leaning towards both sides of the street, as it scudded 
under bare poles. 

" There 's patriotism for you," said Bertha, shutting her 
mouth tight and turning to her mother. 

" How it reels ! " replied Mrs. Belmont, looking after the 
bold soldier just from the battle, with elevated eyebrows and 
slightly parted lips. 

" I reckon he did n't do much fighting," said our heroine, 
soberly. 

" But he 's good on a ' long slide,' " laughed the mother, 
as the Federal craft went down on the causeway under the 
pressure of too much top-sail and mucilaginous under-current. 

" Say, sis, Percy 's coming in to-night," cried Claude, pop- 
ping his head into the parlor, with rueful visage. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 299 

" What 's the rumor now ? " 

" Why, McDowell and his whole army has skedaddled, 
and the Confeds are after Uncle Sam's head, and the Yan- 
kees say Jeff Davis may play foot-ball with it to-morrow, if 
he follows up his victory. The soldiers are marching out 
to defend the town to the best of their demoralized ability, 
and there 's g-r-e-a-t excitement in the city," said Claude, 
blearing his great black eyes at Bertha. 

" I reckon he won't stay long if he comes now," she re- 
turned, dryly. 

" Should n't wonder. Those big dogs of war down there 
on the Potomac will bark loud if that 'glorious Beauregard' 
wakes 'em from their slumber; and the mischief of it is 
they won't mind where they bite. Just as like as not they'll 
give us the hydrophobia before that Captain Ormund can 
take their heads off and make 'em ' die in Dixie ! ' " said 
Claude, dropping down at full length upon the sofa, and 
shutting his eyes tight, with a loud snore. " Moreover," he 
continued, waking up suddenly, " the general in command 
here is calling upon the Union citizens to stand to arms and 
assist the soldiers in keeping the Rebels back. I reckon I '11 
have to go and take a pop at Percy at last," with a long face 
and lonesome groan. " What are you laughing about? " to 
Bertha, in evident surprise. 

" You won't have the privilege of popping at Percy to- 
night, or ever, near the limits of this corporation." 

"How do you know — hey? " said Claude, rising upon his 
elbow, and staring at her with full eyes. 

" The Confederacy won't reach the capital through this 
city, if it ever does," returned our heroine, mysteriously. 

"I want tew know! dew tell!" said Claude, putting up his 
mouth and nose as though he snuffed a strange scent from 
afar. " Heard from the captain since the battle ? " 

Bertha's curly head dipped and her brown eyes danced. 



300 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Jehu ! right side up with care, eh ? " 

" Not a scratch ; only three bullets through his cap and 
a sabre-cut across his coat-sleeve," answered our heroine, 
with a shiver. 

" Jiminy ! Pretty close quarters for edged tools ! How 
the deuce did that letter come ? " 

" Underground mail," said Bertha, laying one finger on 
her lip and looking wonders at the Union brother. 

" I won't tell — ' spit it out ! ' " said Claude, peeping in- 
telligently into her bright face. 

" A soldier in Federal uniform brought it." 

" Jim-i-ny ! traitor ! deserter ! — off with his head, Buck- 
ingham ! " And Claude flourished his arm, as though act- 
ing upon the suggestion, with humorous eyes. 

" But the man was a Southern soldier," laughed Bertha, 
" and only came in to see his friends. He asked me for a 
drink of water, and when the glass came back it held this 
letter," holding it up, with a musical ring from her red 
mouth. " He 's going back in a few days, and take an an- 
swer to this — Deo volante! " 

" How the mischief did he manage it? " 

" Easy enough ! Donned a dead soldier's uniform ; 
Percy sent him on horseback to the lines. Then he was 
one of the Union stragglers — lost all but his life — and got 
in here terribly tired with running through the woods from 
desperate Rebels, you know! " And Bertha laid her head 
back upon the cushion, and half screamed with delight at 
the mail-carrier's cunning. 

" Jerusalem ! " said Claude, falling back on the sofa and 
hiding his face a moment, while his whole form shook. 
" Maybe he '11 get back safe," suggested Claude, looking up 
with a remarkably sober face. 

" Maybe he will, and not walk all the way either." 

"I reckon he won't be missed from his regiment here when 



301 

he leaves with the mail," added Claude, bursting into an 
irresistible horse-laugh. "Well, that captain beats me; 
but it 's none of my business," said Claude, going off with a 
shrug of the shoulders and stepping high at each stride. 



CHAPTER LI. 

OLD BROADBRIM ENTERS THE LINES. 

A YEAR passed away, blood-stained and sunless, and 
the hope of a speedy termination of our national trou- 
bles grew faint and fainter ; the clouds of war grew more 
dense and the earth more darkened. 

Bertha's search for some old-time, familiar face, through 
the hospitals after every "big battle," had thus far been 
unsuccessful. She changed her mind relative to being a 
"hospital nurse" before the close of that year. Such scenes 
as she had witnessed in passing through the crowds of sick 
and wounded, gave her entirely new ideas of, and feelings 
for, the vocation. 

Bertha found a woman was sadly out of her sphere where 
men and modesty were strangers to each other. She drew 
her thick veil over her hot face, and hurried through, shut- 
ting her eyes sometimes to avoid a second view of some 
sickening scene. 

The September sun had not reached its meridian when a 
one-horse cart, well laden with wood, was observed by the 
guard at West End slowly approaching from the Theologi- 
cal Seminary. 

The appearance of the driver was interesting in the ex- 
26 



302 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

treme. Union Brassbuttons eyed him with evident satis- 
faction. 

He was very tall, and sat upon the cart-front with both 
big boots as far apart as they could conveniently get. His 
pants, of "Virginia mixed," were rolled to the knees, and 
a broad-brimmed hat slouched over long grizzly locks, with 
a red bandanna tied under the chin, indicating toothache or 
neuralgia. He swung his whip lazily, as he came on at a 
snail's gallop, and whistled loudly, " The Red, White, and 
Blue." 

"Halt!" 

Woodman drew up short, and smoothed out his mouth. 

"I corned a purpose. What '11 ye have?" inquired Broad- 
brim. 

" Got ary papergram aboard o' your trousers?" said guard. 

" Nary time," diving his hands deep down in his pockets, 
and bringing up something that looked suspicious ; " but 
I've got some nasty Confederate scrip I've been peddlin' 
off to the Union boys as curiosities, you know. Have 
some ? Only ten cent on the dollar, you know." 

" Don't care 'f I dew. How much you got o' the trash?" 

"Le' me see ; one, two, three" — and woodman counted up 
to thirty. " Got thirty o' the stuff. Take 'em for the rest o' 
the boys, you know. They'll want 'em to speck'late on, 
you know." 

" Wall, yas — guess as how I will, * you know,' " said Yank, 
winking significantly. " Here 's three good dollars for the 
nasty stuff, jest out o' Uncle Sam's mint. Makes your 
mouth water — say, yeou ? " 

" All right, you know. Git up here, Bose — got to sell 
out 'fore dark, and git a pass back, you know ? " 

"Hold on there; yeou hain't got no contrabands and 
things aboard o' your pile — love-letters and sich — stowed 
into knot-holes, and so on, be yeou? " 



BERTHA, TIIE BEAUTY. 303 

" Not 's I knows on — haw ! haw ! You kin look, you 
know, and if you ketch a weazel asleep, you kin jest tell 
me, you know." 

" Guess I '11 be pooty apt tew dew that same, you know ! " 
said Yank, setting his head on one side and putting the end 
of his thumb to the tip of his red nose. "Bound to be 
pooty bright-eyed these times ; an', spite of all, news sneaks 

through the lines— the d 1 knows how! Them secesh 

women down there" — pointing to the city eastward — "knows 
all abeout things on t' other side ; an' how they git at it, old 
Abe's gov'ment carn't find eout. Meanest secesh hole in 
creation — that 's so I " 

"They won't git no letters this load, you know; I don't 
tote contrabanders to seceshers, nary time, you know." 

" He-aw ! he-aw ! he-aw ! " roared Yank, bending double 
with the force of sound ; " I heerd tell o' that same ' tote ' 
up in Yankee-land, but I never seen it done afore. Say, 
yeou, hain't got no 'heap' o' letters to 'tote' round — hey?" 
"Reckon not, you know — haw ! haw ! " 
" I '11 jest look under your broadbrim and handkercher, 
ef you 've no objection, ' you know/ " 

" Sartinly ; but look fast, 'cause I 've got the nuralergy in 
the face, and mought ketch cold, you know. 'Sides that, 
I 've got to git a pass from Mars Provost-Marshal 'fore long, 
or stay in town over night, you know. We southside fellows 
used to gin them things to niggers, and now they gin 'em to 
us, you know." 

"Hey? yeou d Rebel! Niggers be we?" and guard 

levelled his musket at Broadbrim. 

" Don't shoot ! I '11 come down ! " said woodman, squat- 
ting behind the cart, and peeping under with a broad grin. 
" You would n't hurt an old fellow like me, you know? " 

" How do I know ? " snickered Yank, dropping his gun, 
and blowing his nose with his fingers. " Yeou ain't no spy, 



304 

pokin' in here after no good, be yeou? — jest eout o' the Rebel 

array, in Quaker clothes, tew cheat a feller, like that d 

Moseby, drivin' in here tew market with chickens to sell ?" 

" Did n't do it, did he ? " asked woodman, with saucer- 
like eyes. 

" Wall, yas — the d rascal done that same, they say; 

and the secesh women hid him till he could creep eout ! 

Ought tew have a rope round their necks, every d b 

of 'em! If 't were n't for them we should n't 'a' had such a 
hard pull at Chantilla, tew my mind ! " 

"Lost your man down there, did n't ye ? " 

" Yas; old Kearney knocked under; and he'll be missed 
tew. Bravest man that ever lost a arm, tew my mind." 

" I reckon, you know, he went out a-cussin', did n't he?" 

" Like 's not. He was able tew dew it — that 's so ! " 

"Say he could cuss clean through, and come out on 
t' other side in a blue streak, you know! Didn't have to 
pay for cussin' 'fore that last fight o' his'n down at Chan- 
tilly ; but I reckon it costs him dear now, with back interest, 
you know ! " 

" You hain't got nuthin' further for me to do, have ye ? 
'cause it's time, you know, to be movin' towards Mars 
Provoste's." 

" Wall, yeou can move on neow, I guess. Good-day, old 
Broadbrim ! " 

" Good-bye, too ! much obleeged to ye, Mars Fed ! " said 
woodman, ducking his head over the wood-pile, and driving 
on at a brisk trot. 

As the old Broadbrim went down the street, whistling the 
"Star-spangled Banner " whenever a Union soldier could 
hear, his blue eyes flew from door to door in evident search 
of something. 

Suddenly he tightened the reins, and called out to Mr. 
Belmont, standing on the step : 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 



305 



"Want any wood to-day, you know?" 

" Well, I don't know — how much for it?" 

" Seventy-five cents — first-rate wood, you know." 

" Pretty cheap — guess I '11 take it at that rate." 

" Thought that 'd fetch ye, you know. You see it 's 
gittin' late, an' I 've got other fish to fry 'fore I git out'n 
here. Where '11 ye have it dumped down ?" 

" Here, Ben," (to the servant,) " show that man where to 
put that wood. 

" I '11 come round and settle for it." 

Mr. Belmont went out to the alley, where Broadbrim had 
" dumped down " the load. 

" Give a fellow a drink o' water? " asked woodman. 

" Certainly. I '11 send it out." 

"Never mind ; I '11 go git it, if you Ve no objection." 

"Pleasant place, this," —smiled old Broadbrim, sinking 
down upon the piazza-floor, after refreshing himself with a 
glass of Cameron run ; " reckon, I rest a bit." 

" Take this easy-chair," said Bertha, drawing it out of 
the hall ; " you look tired." 

Woodman gave a quick turn, and stamped his foot upon 
the floor at the sound of her voice. 

" Thank you, Miss ; I '11 take it 'cause you say so ; but I 
ain't tired now." 

"Live far out?" inquired Mr. Belmont, as Claude 
came up. 

" Pretty well down — close on to Manassy." 

" Good times out there, plenty to eat, and no stealing ? " 
asked Claude. 

" Haw ! haw ! You need n't want to try it ! 'Bout as 
lean as Pharaoh's kine — first the Rebels, and then the 
Yanks ; and between the two we 're about cleaned out." 

" The Southerners did n't trouble you, I reckon," said 
Bertha, smiling. 

26 * U 



30G BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

u Why not, Miss? " eying her under his broadbrim. 

"Because Southerners don't steal from their friends; but 
the Yankees trust nobody for loyalty down here, and take 
from all alike ! " 

" That 's the blessed truth, child ! I know something 
about that." 

" Rebel, eh ? " said Mr. Belmont, with a half-frown. 

" I 'm a Southern man by birth ; and I never saw a man 
born in the South that had n't real feeling for his own 
people, however much he might think they had erred," 
returned woodman, forgetting apparently, in his warmth, 
his former style of expression. 

His hearers exchanged intelligent glances. 

"You were born in the South, I reckon?" turning to 
Bertha. 

" Oh, yes, thank fortune ! away down in North Carolina." 

" Grandest little copperhead within the Federal lines ! — 
ought to be sent to the Old Capitol!" laughed Mr. Belmont. 

"All are copperheads, nowadays, who don't want the 
South sunk ; no matter if they are faithful to the old flag, 
and deplore secession. I reckon you were n't born this side 
of Mason and Dixon's," to Mr. Belmont. 

" No, I 'm a Northern man, and true blue for the Union." 

" Butler and Co. ! " said Broadbrim, catching his under 
lip with his upper teeth tightly. 

" Well, I never quarrel with a man for differing from me 
in sentiment ; but I wish them to concede the same right to 
me ; and not raise the hue and cry of ' traitor,' ' rebel,' and 
* copperhead,' because a Southerner don't buy rope to hang 
his own people. I believe there are as good and true 
Unionists in the South as you could find anywhere North ; 
but they get no credit for it, if they have any sympathy for 
their struggling brothers. I reckon this little girl is Union 
at heart," turning to Bertha. 



BEAUTY. 307 

"I loved the South too well to advocate secession." 

" But now that they are in for it, you feel for them, and 
love still ? " 

" I do, / do ! " said Bertha, tears starting to her eyes. 

" That suits me — let 's shake hands," said Broadbrim, 
drawing off his great, coarse glove, and displaying a hand 
that belied his occupation as woodman by its size and 
delicacy. 

" Seems to me you 're sailing under false colors," ex- 
claimed Claude, staring at the fine hand folding his won- 
dering sister's. 

" Have to do it these days to carry the mail ! " said 
woodman, looking intelligently at the three. 

" I reckon this little girl would like to hear news from 
abroad just like as not." 

" Should n't wonder ! " and Claude stretched his eyes 
at her. 

" Times have been so tight for a good many months, that 
the mail could n't get round ; and the general postmaster 
suspended the operation of this office to save expenses." 

" Reckon he 'd like to suspend me without taking the 
oath?" asked Broadbrim, with a shake of his long grizzly 
locks, and glancing sideways at Bertha. " This little girl 
looks impatient," nodding at the smiling father and bro- 
ther. " Well, child, I have n't got any letter for you — 
could n't have slipped through with it ; it 's all by word of 
mouth. The Colonel is well — " 

" Colonel!" ejaculated Claude. "You mean Major." 

" Oh, no, I don't ! I mean Colonel. He was promoted 
for gallant conduct at the battle of Chantilly. I saw it 
done myself. This little girl looks pleased," he added, eying 
Bertha's radiant face with a queer smile. 

" But I can't tell you all before your father; he's a Yan- 
kee. And I don't know but this young man has some of 



308 BERTHA 

his blood in him, and might do mischief/' said Broadbrim, 
looking under at Claude. 

"Better go in and talk treason then," laughed Claude, 
holding on to his moustache with two fingers. 

Bertha took the hint, and led the way to the parlor. 

" That fellow 's from the Rebel army, I 'm pretty sure, 
and ought to be arrested," said Mr. Belmont to Claude. 

"Oh, he can't do any hurt. Don't interfere with — " 

A half-scream from the parlor cut short the sentence. 
Claude sprang to the door and looked in. 

The red bandanna, broadbrim, and grizzly-gray locks lay 
upon the carpet, and " Bertha the Beauty " was weeping 
and laughing in the arms of smiling, blue-eyed, auburn- 
haired Colonel Percy Ormund. 



CHAPTER LIL 

JOY AND SORROW. — BERTHA FINDS WORK TO DO. 

OUGHT to be arrested, by George ! " growled Mr. Bel- 
mont, as he shook hands heartily with his would-be 
son-in-law, with a queer expression about the corners of his 
good-natured mouth. 

" You 've done me mischief enough in the past to be in- 
dulgent now," returned Percy, with serio-comic eyes. 

" Then I guess I '11 keep dark for the present, 'you know* 
— ha ! ha ! " said Mr. Belmont, breaking into a roar at the 
memory of the Colonel's former appearance and style of 
address. 

Old Broadbrim did not apply to " Mars Provost Mar- 
shal " for a pass that day ; and the golden-hued hours flew 
all too fast to the faithful hearts folded together for the first 






BETITTTA, THE BEAUTY. 309 

time, and after a separation of almost seventeen long weary- 
years ! 

As twilight settled on the sunny-faced day, Bertha wa3 
terrified to see a squad of soldiers file up and ground arms 
before her father's door. Something was afloat through the 
servants, no doubt, and our heroine was half wild with ap- 
prehension for her lover's safety. 

She sprang up the back stairs, pulling Percy, cool and 
smiling, after her, and the Confederate Colonel was pushed 
out of the second-story back window, where he escaped to 
the roof of the third by means of a short ladder, luckily 
left by the tinner, drawing the ladder after him, at Bertha's 
frantic advice. 

Our heroine now descended to the hall, trying to smooth 
down her ruffled plumage and get at the gist of the matter. 

The General in command had been informed by " a col- 
ored lady" that Jeff Davis, President of the Southern Con- 
federacy, had been smuggled into Mr. Belmont's house, where 
he was yet skulking, in countryman's garb ! General Mont- 
gomery ordered the soldiers out to capture the Rebel chief. 

" Ha ! ha ! " laughed Mr. Belmont. "I 'm a Union man, 
square up, and would n't harbor Jeff Davis, if I knew it. 
I have n't seen Jeff since he seceded from Congress, and, 
moreover, he wouldn't be likely to run to a Yankee for 
protection. But you can examine my premises if you ques- 
tion my veracity. Look through, and welcome." 

"I guess we won't trouble you," said the gentlemanly 
officer of the day, doffing his cap to Bertha's beautiful face. 
" Negroes are incessantly starting up some wonder, and 
calling out guards for a wild chase. I know your son for a 
staunch Union man, and feel confident he would connive at 
nothing that would endanger our government." 

"That's so!" said Claude, turning up his eyes innocently, 
with a sanctimonious glance at the ceiling. 



310 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

The officer laughed at the droll expression. 

Claude Belmont always clawed out of a corner by wit 
and comicality. He knew his sister's lover was innocent of 
any hurtful design in venturing within the Federal lines, 
and Claude's conscience was easy on that score. 

"It's our duty to obey orders from head-quarters, and 
I '11 just look around a little, to satisfy the General. Men, 
you will not intrude — unless I find the President ! " he 
added, smiling at Bertha, who felt no concern for her lover 
now. 

The polite officer contented himself with a stroll through 
the rooms, chatting pleasantly with our pretty heroine and 
keeping his eyes upon her bewitching face. 

If the Confederate Colonel had been ensconced in her 
closet, the Federal officer w T ould not have found him "in 
performing his duty." 

Percy Ormund came down from his high perch, laughing 
softly at his situation, and caught her in his arms on the 
second roof. 

" Now this is all for you, little dear, * you know ! ' Makes 
me feel cheap to be running from a Yankee ; but I '11 sub- 
mit to the humiliation any moment for the sweet sake of 
this ! " kissing her red mouth and hiding her curly head in 
his broad bosom. 

"And makes me feel streaked to be screening Rebel shoul- 
der-straps, and whipping the old boy round the stump," 
said Mr. Belmont, poking his head through the window, 
with twinkling eyes. " And dog my cats if I 'd a' done it 
for anything else but the sour sake of doing penance for the 
past ! " and the old man's head disappeared suddenly. 

How fast the moments flew 7 , and rolled around the parting 
hour ! Happiness has wings, while care goes halting through 
the earth. 

The radiance had all rippled away from Bertha's face, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 311 

and a cold whiteness was on the cheek that leaned against 
Percy's supporting breast. 

But she had grown familiar with suffering silently, 
through long years, and her strong heart sustained her now 
through the hardest trial she had ever known. 

They were parting, perhaps forever. Bertha felt the 
most fearful battles were yet to be fought ; and with his 
bravery and exposure in an army of inferior force, how 
could he escape ! Her faith in an overruling Power par- 
tially failed her ; and she was sinking beneath the waves 
of her broad and deep love. But Percy's hand saved her 
from going down, and she walked with him over the bois- 
terous waters. 

"Little girl," he said, soothingly, " 'stand still, and see 
the salvation of God.' We are waiting His will, and let 
us not tremble in anticipation. "We shall meet again, 
Bertha — here, if He sees best ; and if not, we shall live 
and love together, where faithful souls receive a just recom- 
pense and a righteous reward. But for obedience to Him, 
you would be mine now by other ties than those of love ; 
and if we still trust, our hopes may die in fruition even in 
this world. But, dear little one, if I should fall, (there, 
dear, don't shudder so at the sound ! school yourself to 
think of it with composure, for a soldier's life is surrounded 
with danger, and only God can shield it,) let not that shake 
your faith in Him on whom you now rely. 

' Blind unbelief is sure to err, 
And scan His works in vain ; 
God is his own interpreter, 
And He will make it plain.' 

" You know how fondly you are loved by the heart that 
pillows this precious little golden head, and I do not mean 
to say it is not hard to let you pass from my arms ; but it 



312 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

is written : ' My grace is sufficient for you,' and that grace 
is free to all. I think I have a sufficiency to bravely bear 
all that may be in reservation for a trial of faith ; and I 
would have my own dear Bertha as strong and hopeful as 
her soldier lover. Won't she be ? " lifting her chin with his 
finger, and kissing the grieving mouth. 

"I will try, Percy — I will try hard! You will help 



me 



It was long before Percy Ormund spoke again. He was 
trying "hard " to master his emotions and comfort her. His 
flattering heart felt how very hard it was for her — a little, 
weak woman — to hold her feelings in abeyance to will, 
when he, a strong man and a bold soldier, had enough to 
do to hide his own. But grace conquered the natural 
enemy, and Percy's Christian heart did help her to be 
" strong in the faith that was first delivered to the saints." 

He drew her to a kneeling posture, and, with her head 
resting upon his shoulder, the brave soldier of the Cross, 
as well as of the Southern Confederacy, strengthened her 
weak woman's heart by a fervent petition to Him who 
governs and controls the affairs of earth with a firmer faith, 
a holier hope, and easier submission to the divine will. 

And if the smile in Bertha's eyes was sad, when Colonel 
Ormund looked a last farewell in their loving brown depths, 
there was no tear there to trouble him with the memory 
when he was far away. 

" You 're in a bad cause, my boy," said Mr. Belmont, at 
parting ; " but I know you think you 're right, or you would n't 
have gone against your conscience ; and I wish you may 
slip through it all safely, and knock under with a good 
grace." 

"I see a Providence in all things, sir; and if we fail to 
establish a separate government, I shall know how to sub- 
mit to the result. 



•BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 313 

" But, live or die, stand or fall, I am with my native 
South ! " said Colonel Percy Ormund, with spirit-flashing eyes. 

"That fellow's game!" muttered Mr. Belmont, as he 
turned away, scratching his head. "I only wish his grit 
was on the side of right. If he and Stonewall would climb 
over to the Union, we should n't have much more war, I 'm 
thinking. I guess the Southern air is tainted with treason ; 
and if i" had a slavery constitution, it would be infected 
too ! " 

And Mr. Belmont but expressed the sentiment of the ma- 
jority of his people in this last sentence. 

Time dragged wearily away, stained with blood and satu- 
rated with tears. The strength of the Southern Confederacy 
was dwindling, and a draft for five hundred thousand men 
was ordered by President Lincoln to overwhelm the " Rebel 
Government." 

Bertha heard from her lover now only through the public 
prints. She had followed him, unscathed, through many a 
hard-fought battle, through the Maryland raids, up to the 
struggle at Winchester, and there he was wounded ! Even 
his enemies acknowledged his valor in a hopeless cause. 

Bertha could not sit still now ; her feet moved with the 
restlessness of her mind. She did not know if his wound 
was slight or serious. She only knew he was suffering, and 
she could not go to him ! 

Percy had said to her during their last interview : 

" Do all the good you can, my dear little girl, alike to 
friend and foe. These boys in blue are only doing their 
duty, they think, as we are doing ours. Away from the 
battle-field we forget they are our foes ; and God has com- 
manded, 'Do good to them that hate you.' In suffering, 
help them, if you can." 

"To fight against you again?" said Bertha, hiding her 
eyes from his glorious smile, against his fluttering heart. 



314 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Bertha wandered through the full hospitals, after the 
battle of Winchester, in search of something to do, and she 
found it ere long. But for Percy's goodness, that compassed 
both friend and foe, she would never have seen that face 
again this side of the eternal world. 



CHAPTER LIII. 

THE UNEXPECTED MEETING. — THE ENAMORED 
CHAPLAIN. 

BERTHA stood motionless, gazing in silent horror upon 
that face. Was he dead? She would have thought 
so, but for the dilating of the nostrils with labored breathing. 

" How long has he been here ? " she inquired of the chap- 
lain, who had become enamored of her charms, and followed 
her through the hospital. 

" Only a day ; but he lay upon the battle-ground three 
days and nights before he was brought off. His case is 
hopeless, the surgeon says. His appearance indicates it." 

" Has he no friends ? " 

" When first brought in he was delirious, and raved of 
* Bertha,' and ' wife,' but on being restored to reason, he de- 
clined my proposition to notify his friends of his situation." 

" Do you know his name, and where he is from ? " 

" Harry Atherton, of Madison, Wisconsin." 

Bertha turned quickly away, and hurried to the door, fol- 
lowed by the admiring chaplain, who proved, in after-days, 
to be a widower from New York. 

Our heroine hesitated, and looked back at the death-like 
face. Should she leave him there to die among strangers ? 
Percy's advice, " Do all the good you can, alike to friend 



THE BEAUTY. 315 

and foe," was living in her memory when she looked back 
at that face. 

To the chaplain's surprise and curiosity, she deliberately- 
retraced her steps and knelt down by the soldier's cot. He 
watched her silently at a respectful distance. 

Bertha knelt there a long time, living over the past, and 
praying for the future of the soul that would soon go to its 
last account, before the sunken eyes of that dying man 
opened upon her earnest face. 

"Oh, Bertha! my wife! my injured wife!" his arms 
reached after her yearningly. 

" Horace, remember Louisa ; do not wrong her," and 
Bertha eluded his eager grasp. 

His hands fell over his anguished face, and Horace Stan- 
hope groaned in bitterness of soul. 

"Is that your husband?" asked the excited chaplain, 
unable longer to control his feelings, with a face of such 
evident interest and anxiety that Bertha long remem- 
bered it. 

" Oh, no ; his wife is far away ; but we were friends in 
other years," said Bertha, wishing to screen him as well as 
herself. 

The soldier looked up wildly. 

" You are my wife ! I have no other, and I am a villain ! " 

"You have no other, Mr. Atherton?" she exclaimed, 
still striving to screen him from the astonished chaplain. 

"No, dear, I have no other; and you know my name is 
not Atherton, Bertha." 

" I do, Mr. Stanhope ; but you wear it." 

" Throw it away ! throw it away ! It 's time to be honest 
now ! " he cried, wildly. " If I had always been, you would 
not have deserted me, Bertha! And I died to all good when 
I lost you ! I wish I had died before I deceived her ! " 

" Louisa ? " 



316 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"Yes, dear; Louisa — poor Louisa! We were not legally 
married, and it broke her heart ! I was villain enough to 
betray her innocence, and then exult in her misery ; and she 
died ! I never loved her ; and when my little Bertha was 
taken, I told her all, and it broke her heart ! " groaned 
Horace Stanhope, in an agony of remorse. 

"Who was 'little Bertha,' Horace ?" 

" My daughter — my idol ! I loved her next to you, Ber- 
tha, and I grew desperate when she died. If there is a God, 
He has punished me enough in this world ! " throwing his 
hands up restlessly. 

Bertha looked at the horrified chaplain. His face plainly 
indicated his feelings : it was cold-white, and the broad brow 
contracted with inward pain. 

" Death-beds are honest places," he said, solemnly. " Your 
name is Stanhope, then ? " 

" Yes, yes." 

" And this lady is your wife ? " 

" Yes, she is my wife ! I never was divorced, though I 
said it to deceived Louisa. I needed her wealth, and I 
obtained and squandered it. I could not be divorced a vin- 
culo et matrimonii, and I married her illegally. I was n't 
villain enough to slander you, Bertha, and without that I 
could not be free to marry again. How did you know I 
had another wife ? " 

" Through Alonzo, first." 

" He thought so. I played an infamous part. I would 
have deserted her, when I secured her wealth, and come to 

you, but for Are you married ? " suddenly starting 

up with a new thought. 

" Oh, no. I was not free." 

"But you might have been — you could have obtained 
full freedom, when I deceived Louisa." 

" As the world goes ; but not in God's sight." 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 317 

" How? " betraying his astonishment in his eyes. 

"No human decree can set me at liberty to marry again 
while you live, Mr. Stanhope. I am free from you by your 
own act; but my vow to God is yet binding. I said: 'so 
long as we both shall live ; ' and so long as we do, I shall 
not marry again." 

The chaplain's hands came together right suddenly, as he 
turned away without a word. He soon returned; but 
Bertha did not see his face. She would have been startled 
if she had. 

Horace Stanhope saw that face, and the snake hissed at 
it, even on a death-bed. 

" I won't die, then ; you are mine ! " he exclaimed, reach- 
ing after her. But Bertha shrank away. 

" I am not yours now, Mr. Stanhope. You forfeited all 
right to me when you married her." 

"Won't you forgive me, Bertha?" he pleaded, with 
clasped hands. 

"There is nothing to forgive, Horace. I feel only kind- 
ness and solicitude for you. You said, ' If there is a God ! ' 
Do you doubt it now ? " 

He lay still a while, looking at her strangely. 

"Do you doubt it, Horace?" 

"Dear, I don't know. Must I die?" turning to the 
chaplain. 

" It is well to be prepared. You have a great deal to do 
before you are ready, I think ; but God is able and willing 
to pardon much in a short space of time. Ask Him. We 
will help you." 

" Do they say I must die?" grasping after Bertha. 

" Horace, think of heaven first, and death or life after. 
Are you afraid to die?" 

"I want the surgeon," he said, looking eagerly around ; 
" I must know the truth. I wished to die when they brought 



318 

me here, but now I want to live. I thought all was lost 
then, but it will not be lost until I die. Where is the Doc- 
tor ? " to the interested chaplain. 

Mr. Olney left the cot, and dispatched the steward for 
the surgeon. He thought it best the wounded man should 
know his true state, in order to turn his thoughts to the 
land of spirits. He saw Horace Stanhope's heart was 
wedded to this world, and he wished to break the bond 
before it was too late. He feared it w T as too late already, 
from what he had heard ; for an infidel's mind cannot be 
melted and remoulded in a moment. 

The surgeon came ere long. He was a large, fat, merry- 
mouthed old Frenchman, universally loved by the soldiers. 
But his piety could have been put in a nutshell, if it could 
have been found at all. 

Horace turned to him, eagerly : 

"Will I live? Must I die?" 

" Mon Dieu ! You can do bote on 'em ! — he-a, he-a ! " 

" Will I recover ? — tell me plainly." 

" Certainement ! when dat cut heales. Vilain wound, 
do — a-h!" 

" I wish to be informed of your honest opinion. Do you 
think I will recover ? " 

" Well, a-h, vous may — worse cuts been — " 

"Don't flatter him with false hopes," interrupted the 
earnest chaplain ; " tell him what you think. The fate of 
an immortal soul may hang upon your words." 

" A-h ! Send for de priest den — may recouvrer, mais not 
much hope — too long on de ground — time to say votre 
prieres ! " said the old surgeon, with a solemnity of counte- 
nance that was unusual and impressive. 

"You will soon be free, then!" and the dying man 
caught after Bertha so quickly that he well-nigh succeeded 
in securing her. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 3U 

" Dear, let me hold you a little while. I shall soon be 
out of your way, Bertha, my wife ! " 

" Mon Bleu ! dat your wife ! " ejaculated the old surgeon, 
with white rolling eyes ; "don't wondair vous eagair to get 
holt of elle!" 

Our heroine made no reply contradictory of this asser- 
tion — she forbore to excite him further. Her pity was 
fully aroused. 

"Are you afraid to die, Horace? Pray for pardon, that 
we may meet in a happier world, when the sufferings of this 
are ended." 

" Dear, I can't think till you are nearer ! I want you, 
Bertha. I have suffered enough for my sins, to die in your 
arms now. Come to me, my wife ; " both lean and bloodless 
hands were stretched after her. 

Bertha laid her small fingers within his eager clasp, 
struggling to keep back the upgushing tears. 

" Oh, if I had been good as you, Bertha, I might have 
been happy now ! I see it all w T hen it is too late ! " groaned 
the remorseful man. 

" It is not too late for happiness in heaven, Horace. Turn 
your eyes from this world, and prepare for the one above." 

" Dear, I don't want to die ! I have no hope of a better 
world than this, and no fear of a worse one. I have lived 
without a God, and, if there is one, He is too far away from 
my heart to touch it with repentance now. But I do repent 
of my sins, because they separated me from you, Bertha — 
that is all ! " 

" Horace, if you love me, try to believe — ask God to 
help you, and He will. Your love for me, Horace, should 
convince you there is a great Fountain of Love from whence 
this little drop of affection has come to your heart. The 
soul's capacity, here in this world, should be sufficient proof 
of its immortality." 



320 BEPwTIIA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Bertha, a ' little drop ' ? Dear, it 's a boundless ocean ! 
There 's no heaven for me without you, my wife ! And yet 
I married her! — a mock-marriage! Oh, I'm a villain! 
I '11 own it now ! But I never felt it until that Rebel Or- 
mund gave me my death-wound. Bertha ! Bertha ! are 
you going to faint ? " he cried, in evident alarm, as she 
sprang up and gasped for breath, with face ashen and ago- 
nized. 

"Dear, do you feel for me, now that I must die?" he 
asked, piteously. 

" Yes, Horace ; I do, deeply. I must leave you now, but 
I will come again." 

" Oh, Bertha, don't go ! I shall die before you return ! " 

" No dangair of dat, if she don't stay two or tree days," 
said the old surgeon, eying her narrowly. "Bettair go 
rest a little — mon Dieu ! " 

"Will I live that long?" 

" Certainement — may recouvrer from de vilain cut — keep 
bright — a-h!" returned the old doctor, still watching 
Bertha's white and agitated face. 

" Dear, will you seal your pardon with a kiss ? It will 
help me to die. Your God may forgive me, too. My heart 
was hard before you came, but your goodness has broken 
the rock. I will try to believe. If there is life beyond the 
grave, I want to live with you through all eternity, Bertha. 
That would be heaven enough." 

Bertha knelt down to gratify the w T ish of the penitent 
and dying man, and it was long before she rose from his 
twining arms. 

" You will stay and encourage him," she said to the 
chaplain. 

" I will. Give yourself no concern, but more attention," 
he replied, as he looked down soberly upon the white face 
upturned to his. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 321 



CHAPTER LIV. 

HORACE STANHOPE CONFESSES TO BERTHA. 

DID Bertha love the penitent, dying man, who was still 
her husband, though crimson with crime ? Almost — 
and her spirit yearned over his soul. 

" That Rebel Ormund " had gone like a flash of electricity 
through her frame, and would have betrayed her to Horace 
Stanhope had he been the same as in other years. 

But he was no longer the same. Then he threw his guilt 
upon other shoulders, and was clean in his own eyes ; now 
he acknowledged his sins, and writhed beneath the burden. 
This was the " repentance that needed not to be repented 
of." Had he been thus in years gone by, how she could 
have loved him ! 

And as Bertha knelt there in her silent chamber, and 
prayed for her repentant and suffering husband, she felt 
her own imperfections, and asked God to forgive the great 
sin of her past life. Bertha felt now, with that sadly- 
changed face — that wreck of all that was once handsome 
and manly in seeming — how great had been her error in 
deserting him. Conscience lashed her for dereliction in duty 
to one whose whole heart was inurned in her life. 

Bertha lost sight of his past sins in contemplating her 
own. She had never felt guilty towards Horace Stanhope 
till now, and her resolve for the future was formed before 
she rose from that soul-confession to the great High -Priest. 

She had thought he had forgotten her — that he was happy 
in another's love ; if not happy, that she was not answerable 
for his unrest. But now she saw and felt, through his 

V 



322 B-ERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

changed form and dying words, as he believed, how deep 
was her guilt in leaving him to be tempted and tried by a 
world that often conquers even Christian hearts. What 
might she not have anticipated for him ? 

She knew now the pain of separation from one who is the 
life of our life. With all the grace that God had given her, 
it was hard to endure patiently absence from Percy Ormund 
in his wounded and suffering state. What, then, must have 
been his utter abandonment to evil, who had no grace to 
sustain him under the mighty pain of her loss ! He might 
recover. She had known men to be restored whose condi- 
tion had been hopeless. If Horace were spared, through 
an all-wise Providence, she would sacrifice all to wash out 
the great sin-stain of the past that oppressed her awakened 
conscience. And Percy would approve her — she knew 
that. She had been purified and elevated by his lofty and 
Christian spirit. But for his noble advice, she would prob- 
ably never have seen her suffering husband again on earth. 
If he recovered — and Bertha fancied there was hope, from 
the old surgeon's last words — he would not have sought 
her, after his "mock-marriage" with another; he might 
have fallen in battle at last, and gone to the bar of God, 
unbelieving and hard, as he had confessed he was, ere she 
came to soften his stony heart. 

And Percy had sent him to her ! His hand had made 
him feel his past villany, and confess it to her whom he had 
wronged ! The hand of him she had loved from earliest 
girlhood had broken the infidel heart of him who had 
blighted the fairest years of her life, and prepared it to re- 
ceive the Truth. 

Bertha was amazed at the mysterious workings of Provi- 
dence, and she felt convinced that the will of God concern- 
ing her would be shown in the result of her husband's 
wound at the hand of her lover. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 323 

Claude Belmont was astonished by the intelligence that 
Bertha brought from the hospital. They had laughed at 
the idea of Horace Stanhope going to the war. 

" Could n't get out of the draft, and caught cold, 1 11 
bet ! " said incredulous Claude. 

Bertha urged him to return with her to see Horace, and 
he went, fully assured his sister had been imposed upon again 
by the wily hypocrite. He could not believe Horace Stan- 
hope's penitence sincere, in spite of his supposed situation. 

But Claude came back to his home with another belief 
and wholly changed feelings for his brother-in-law. His 
eyes looked suspiciously watery when he related to his won- 
dering parents his interview with the suffering man. 

" I cave," said Claude, with characteristic humor. " I '11 
own up square that I can't see old-time Horace Stanhope 
in the wounded soldier that bears his name. It 's the Lord's 
doing, and it's marvellous in my eyes." 

Horace Stanhope's story, as related to Bertha and Claude, 
we will give in his own words : 

" After you left me, Bertha, I cursed God and defied Him 
to torment me more ! Not that I believed there was one, 
but it was a relief to blaspheme his name ! "When your 
waving handkerchief grew indistinct, and all trace of you 
was lost in the dark depths of distance, I felt cold and hard 
as a stone. And that feeling followed me, Bertha, until I 
saw you again. After the first bitterness of parting was 
past, I found a little comfort in hoping I should win you 
back again. But when a year — that was an age to me — 
went by, and you gave me no encouragement, I threatened 
you with a divorce, thinking you would avoid the shame 
of such a situation by yielding to my desire. I dared not 
come to you, Bertha, for I — " 

"I know all, Horace; 'let the dead past bury its dead;'" 
said Bertha, quickly, glancing significantly at Claude. 



324 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" You know all, dear? " staring at her wildly. 

" Yes, Horace, pass it by ; it a all over now, and you 
repent." 

" And he does not ? " pointing to Claude, whose face 
betrayed his interest. 

" No, no ! — let it lie buried, Horace ; you — " 

"No, dear ; he must know what a villain he influenced you 
to marry against your will ! How did you know, Bertha ? " 

" I heard the story soon after locating here, and traced it 
to you. No one suspects me of bearing any relationship to 
the author of the crime. With your accomplice I have 
become personally acquainted. His name convinced me of 
your guilt. He was with you when you arrived at Wil- 
liamsville, Horace." 

" Yes, dear." Horace Stanhope clasped his hands over 
his eyes, and the first blush that Bertha had ever seen upon 
his face passed over it then. After a pause, he turned toward 
the wondering brother. 

" Before I saw you I was a clerk in this city. I robbed 
my employer, w T ho tempted me with funds to deposit in 
bank, and with an accomplice in crime, who was a young 
man of high social position, I fled southward, and — " 

Claude had sprung to his feet, with fire-flashing eyes. 

" Great heavens, I have heard the story ! — and you were 
the villain that deceived us and married my sister ! " 

" Even so ! * Death-beds are honest places,' said the chap- 
lain. I know it is a death-bed, Bertha, by the desire I 
feel to make this confession now. I thought you were igno- 
rant of my former residence in this town, and I wished you 
to remain so. Had you gone elsewhere on earth, I would 
have followed you." 

" Mysterious are the ways of Providence. It is not in 
man that walketh to direct his steps," said Claude, looking 
at Bertha, with wide, sober, and significant eyes. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 325 

" With the termination of our correspondence died all my 
hopes. I was mad with all the world but myself. I thought 
you exulted in torturing me, and yet I could not hate you, 
Bertha. I loved you to idolatry, and I thought it was your 
duty to love me after you became my wife, without remem- 
bering that I had any duty to perform apart from that of 
worshipping you. 

" Had you been blind and helpless — wholly dependent 
upon me for all you enjoyed — I should have been perfectly 
happy, Bertha ; but it made me miserable to see you smile 
upon another ! I rendered you wretched with my love, and 
I had not the strength and manliness to try to win you by 
gentleness and patience. I was cruel and tyrannical, be- 
cause you could not be driven to reciprocate my deep affec- 
tion. Oh, I was mad ! " he cried, wildly straining her to 
his breast, "to make my own misery fourteen weary years, 
when I might have realized as perfect happiness as earth 
can afford ; for if you can forgive and pity me now, my 
sweet wife, you could have loved me fondly then, had I been 
worthy. But I was not worthy, and I made you suffer for 
my sins. If I could re-live the past now, Bertha, I would 
sooner die than oppress you as I have. But it can never 
be recalled, dear, and I shall soon be in another world. I 
hope it will be the one to which you will go when your pure 
life is ended here, Bertha ; if I knew that, I w T ould be will- 
ing to die. There is nothing to live for, now that you and 
my baby-Bertha are lost; and you will think of me kindly 
when I am gone, or you would not comfort me with your 
dear presence now." 

Bertha's deep sobs burst into a half scream — she could 
not have helped it, to save the world. The more he confessed 
his guilt, the more she felt her ow r n ; and the thought of his 
dying before she could atone for the past by future efforts 
agonized her. 
28 



326 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Horace Stanhope was evidently surprised by the deep 
feeling manifested by one whom he had so deeply wronged, 
and his words of soothing were tender to the last degree, and 
bit our conscience-awakened heroine. 

" Oh, Horace, I ought to have died rather than desert 
you ! I did not bear and forbear enough. I feel my sins 
now." 

" Dear, I have been living over the past since you came 
to comfort me here, and I only wonder that you endured so 
long. I used to think I was more sinned against than sin- 
ning; but now I see through a changed medium when it is 
too late ! You were only human, Bertha, and could not 
bear inhuman wrongs. It is strange that I never felt this 
until I came to die ! Had you not escaped from your 
tyrant, I might have murdered you with cruel love, as I did 
her by soulless indifference ! She loved "me, Bertha, almost 
as well as I did you ; and yet I crushed her life out by un- 
kindness ! Oh, I don't wonder now that you abandoned to 
his own wickedness one so dishonest and depraved. I threw 
happiness from me, and misery came to punish the evil 
deed. Conscience acquits you of all wrong now, my dear 
wife. I don't wonder that you left me to suffer for my 
sins ! " 

This was what had compelled Claude Belmont to " cave." 
He could not doubt the sincerity of Horace Stanhope, in 
view of his situation. He evidently felt his " days were 
numbered and finished," and had no earthly motive in 
making this confession but to comfort her. 

But Bertha could not be soothed under the pressure of 
such self-reproaches as his changed appearance aroused. 
Her very soul wept as she listened to his self-reproaches and 
looked upon his wrecked form. 

The once shining black hair was thickly sprinkled with 
gray ; the full, fair, oval face of olden days was sunken and 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 327 

Beamed and sallow ; and the large, soft, heavenly blue eyes 
of fourteen years ago were faded and hollow, and painfully 
mournful. 

Bertha was wholly subjugated by the tender light that 
smiled upon her from their sad depths. 

"Dear Horace, if God will spare you now, I'll never 
leave you again so long as we both shall live." 

"Dear! " he gasped, and lay very still, his startled heart 
shaking the covering above it, and his starting eyes full of 
half-incredulity. 

Then he caught her convulsively to his breast, and laughed 
aloud, with tears trickling from his glad eyes. 

" I believe there is a God, now, Bertha, and He dwells in 
your heart ; and I do feel grateful for this mercy in my last 
hours. It will soften the sting of death. I should have 
died hard and hopeless but for you, my Christian wife ; let 
this truth reward you for your goodness to your unworthy 
husband when he is gone. Dear, I shall not live to try to 
make you as happy in the future as I have rendered you 
wretched in the past. There is no such joy for me on earth, 
Bertha ; I have sinned too grievously. I have felt that I 
must die since the stony hardness left my heart ; and it will 
be easier, now. You will go with me to the grave, my wife, 
and — what then, dear ? " drawing her arm under his head 
and turning his face to her bosom, as if for comfort and 
encouragement from her lips. 

" And then there is One who is ' able and willing to save 
to the uttermost all who come unto Him,' even the ' chief 
of sinners — who will go with you beyond, if you will lean 
upon His strong arm by faith, dear Horace. ' There need 
not one be left behind, for God hath bidden all mankind.' " 

" My little Blessing, I will try — help me. 

" How long since you learned to trust Him, Bertha ? " 
he asked, after a pause. 



328 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Ten years, Horace. If I had possessed grace when we 
were married, I should have made you happier." 

" Dear, would you have married me ? " looking up ear- 
nestly into her thoughtful eyes. 

Bertha said not a word, but a gentle shake of the head 
answered him. 

" But had I been good after our marriage, Horace, I 
might have produced a change in your heart by my Chris- 
tian example; 'for the unbelieving husband is sanctified 
by the wife.' I did not submit enough — my spirit was too 
proud to humble itself to injustice. I felt wronged, and 
had n't the meekness to yield patiently. Had I been wholly 
submissive to your will from the beginning, you might have 
required fewer sacrifices, and learned to be less exacting. I 
feel my past failings now ! " 

" Dear, I don't see them. You yielded as long as there 
was any hope. Had you submitted more, I should probably 
have crushed your life! I wonder and shudder at my 
wickedness, now that Eternity has opened my eyes to see 
clearly the things of Time! I 'in a monster in my own 
eyes, Bertha ! " 

" Then you will be a saint in heaven, my husband ! " ex- 
claimed Bertha, bursting into irrepressible tears of joy. 



CHAPTER LV. 

STANHOPE'S MEETING WITH PERCY ORMUND. 

DURING the intervals of rest from his painful wound, 
Horace Stanhope related the whole of his history 
from the hour of her abandonment until they providentially 
met ao-ain. 



BEAUTY. 329 

He had gone to Rochester from the city of New York, 
where he first saw Louisa Demming. The young girl loved 
him, and made no effort to conceal her passion. She was 
wealthy, and presumed upon that to screen her from the 
impropriety of forwardness. 

But Horace hoped to regain Bertha, and did not conceal 
his marriage. Louisa well-nigh broke her heart over the 
information. Horace escaped from her .vicinity to Buffalo, 
and, as usual, became involved pecuniarily. While there, 
his correspondence with Bertha terminated through his own 
impetuosity and want of foresight. 

"I grew desperate then, Bertha," he said, sadly, "and 
resolved to marry Louisa for her wealth, and to be revenged 
upon you ! I consulted a lawyer, and found I could not be set 
at liberty to marry again, under the law of that State, without 
charging you with a crime that I knew you were innocent 
of. Bad as I was, I could not do that, Bertha ; but I did 
worse for Louisa : I married her illegally, and committed 
bigamy ! She thought I was divorced, and so did Alonzo ; 
for I was villain enough to deceive them ! 

" I grew reckless after I married her, and plunged into 
dissipation and crime. I feared to remain with her father, 
lest he should learn to despise me, as yours did, and I 
should lose her wealth. I took her to Batavia, and while 
there, I wrote you. Had you given me any encouragement, 
I would have deserted her — but you did not respond to my 
letter." 

" I thought you were divorced, Horace." 

" Would you have answered me, if you had not been so 
informed, dear ? " 

"Yes, sir. I never meant to cast you off wholly. I only 

wanted rest. I was tired ; and I thought if you loved me 

truly, you would try to reform, if you found that was the 

only way to succeed in your hopes. I never gave you up, 

28* 



330 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

until you threatened me with a divorce. Then hope was 
consumed in the flame of my pride! I would have cor- 
responded with you till now, Horace." 

" Oh, Bertha, what a blind fool and villain I have been I" 
groaned the repentant man. 

" It 's all over now, Horace," she said, soothingly. 

"I failed in Batavia, and absconded with Louisa to 
Cleveland, and — " 

" Engaged in the photograph business," she said, smil- 
ingly. 

"Dear?" he looked up at her in astonishment. 

Bertha told him all. 

" I never heard of you but once, Bertha, after I married 
her ; then it was through a little poem copied without credit 
to the original journal ; and it broke my heart ! . I w T ould 
have written you then, but for my little Bertha. I think 
she was all that prevented me from deserting Louisa years 
ago. Well as she loved me, I cared nothing for her, but 
took pleasure in paining her heart by proving my indiffer- 
ence. I learned then how hard it was for you to love me 
simply because I worshipped you. After her father's death, 
I obtained possession of her wealth, and in three years it 
was all squandered, and we were poor as when we left 
Batavia ! But she never complained, and loved me through 
all — poor Louisa! When Lincoln ordered the draft, I 
escaped to Canada to avoid it ; and there my little darling 
died. 

" Instead of softening, it made me harder, Bertha. I 
grew savage and furious, and wreaked my vengeance upon 
the suffering and helpless mother ! I told her all, in my 
wild agony, and her heart broke before they buried our 
child! They sleep side by. side now on British soil, and 
their spirits are happy in heaven. I think there is a 
heaven now, Bertha ; and I believe God and you, my good 
little wife, are helping me to find it ! 



331 

"Then I returned to the States, and enlisted for the war. 
I was doubly desperate. I had lost you and my little girl, 
and life was a burden. I hated myself now, and all man- 
kind — except you, dear. I never thought of you, Bertha, 
without a longing desire to take you in my arms, and hear 
you say you forgave me before I died. Dear, say it now." 

"I do forgive you, Horace," striving to repress the tears. 

" But I hated your father and brother, Bertha, as much 
as I loved you. I thought I owed all my misery to them, 
forgetting it was through their influence that I obtained 
your hand. 

"I fancied you had gone South, knowing your Southern 
principles ; and in my first and last battle I looked for 
Claude in the Rebel ranks. Had I seen him there, I would 
have strained every nerve to reach his heart before that 
brave Ormund paralyzed my own ! Dear, you are deathly 
pale ! Do you hate me now, Bertha ? " 

" No, Horace ; but it hurts me to think of the past. You 
don't feel so now ? " 

" No, dear ; the bitterness has all gone from my soul. I 
feel no unkindness for any one now; and I would sooner be 
butchered by Claude than strike a blow that would reach 
your heart." 

" Do you feel no hardness towards him who has laid you 
here, Horace? " 

" No, Bertha. It was the fate of war. He was doing his 
duty, he thought, towards his 'native South'; and I was 
fighting for revenge, and not from patriotism ! " 

" How did you know him among so many, Horace? " 

" Him, dear? — ' Colonel Ormund the Brave? ' They swear 
by his name in the Union army ! and the man who brings 
him down, if he is known, will be immortalized ; and if he 
escapes, God will be his shield, for our men long for his 
life — he 's a terror to his foes, and a target for thousands I 



332 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

Jwounded him, Bertha, and he returned good for evil, by- 
letting out my stony nature with the edge of his sword. I 
thank him for the wound that has given you back to my 
arms. How you tremble, my little wife ! " 

" I am nervous. Did you wound him seriously, Horace? " 

" I thought him dead till after the battle, for I saw him 
fall from his horse and carried from the field. Oh, you 
should have seen him, Bertha ; he was glorious in battle. 
He is very tall, and flashed along the lines on a shining 
black fiery steed, like an avenging spirit ! If there was an 
unyielding point in our front, Colonel Orrnund had only to 
dash down upon it with his magical battle-cry, ' God, and 
our native South ! ' and the solid phalanx was broken as if 
by superhuman power! And wherever there is a strong 
point, ' Colonel Orrnund the Brave ' is invariably found • 
and he gallops through the fiery shower of shot and shell 
as though panoplied with impenetrable armor! Our men 
fear him — they say he possesses a charmed life ; and 
wherever he carries it upon the field, the enemy weakens 
and gives back ! " 

" But you wounded him, Horace, perhaps mortally !" 

" No, dear, not mortally. He came to me after the battle, 
and ministered to my wants like an angel of mercy." 

" Horace ! " with reddening cheeks and starting eyes. 

" He seemed to grow reckless when his men fell back and 
fled in disorder, Bertha. He dashed over the field, vainly 
trying to rally them ; but as our boys pressed on and car- 
ried dismay and death into the Rebel ranks, he appeared to 
court destruction with the rout of his troops, and rushed 
into the hottest of the fire — and with such a face, Bertha ! 
It was like rock ! I don't know why it was, but my eyes 
followed him over the field — he charmed me. 

" He is a North Carolinian, Bertha. Our regiment cap- 
tured his State flag, and Colonel Orrnund was like 'a bear 



333 

robbed of her whelps.' He dashed headlong over the dead 
and dying through storms of leaden hail and leaping fire, 
and re-captured it, with a sweep of his sparkling sword that 
sent the daring boy in blue to his long home ! 

"It was then I succeeded in reaching him. I saw him 
leaping along the plain on his foaming war-steed, with that 
face of marble and drawn sword ; and heard his startling 
battle-cry : ' God, and our native South ! ' as he cut down 
the capturer, and grasped the fluttering flag ; and I aimed 
steadily at the gallant Rebel, and fired. I had nerve there, 
Bertha ; despair had rendered me fearless. Our men were 
giving back before his prancing and leaping steed and 
death -dealing sword; and he discovered his would- be - 
destroyer. 

"I saw him waver a moment, and the flag went down; 
"but he caught it under his arm, and plunged after me. I 
met his blazing eye, and caught his terrible shout, ' God, 
and our native South ! ' as he dashed after me, and I turned 
to fly in mortal terror. It was the first feeling of fear I had 
realized since I entered the army. 

" But I could not escape his strong and brave arm, and 
his steel went through my granite side and laid the villain 
low ! 

" Our men had fallen back, and left the front clear ; and 
I saw my conqueror bounding away towards his scattered 
troops ; and, Bertha, I sat up and discharged the second 
barrel of my rifle at him. I yearned for his life ; and I 
was happy when I saw horse and rider go down, and his 
men rush in and bear him off! 

"Then I fell back, dead to all sight and sound. 

" When I awoke to consciousness, the dead were heaped 
around me, and all was still under the gloomy night-sky. I 
crawled away to a clump of evergreens, and lay down, as 
I thought to die ; but I was hard as adamant yet. 



334 

" I heard groans not far away through the long, long 
night ; and when the morning came, I found a wounded 
Rebel in the shade of the young pines that was my retreat. 
He was shot in the ankle, and cut on the arm. I was glad 
I was not alone, and we grew familiar while waiting three 
weary days and nights for help. We had a little food ; he 
had water, and I bad whiskey, and we managed to live 
through that terrible time, until Ormund and Walter Eldon 
came to our aid." 

" Horace ! Walter Eldon ? — poor Edalia ! " 

" Yes, dear, Walter Eldon. We saw them coming through 
the twilight, evidently looking for some one among the 
fallen men. My companion shouted ' Walter ! ' and they 
dashed up, with an answering shout, at the well-known 
sound. 

"My fellow-sufferer was Charles Chester, Bertha; and 
Captain Eldon was searching for his friend." 

" Oh, Horace ! will he die ? It would break Minnie's 
heart ! " 

"Dear, I hope not. He was a good fellow, though a 
staunch Rebel. He defended his faith as well as any man 
could, and I knew he was honest in his belief. As for me,, 
it was not principle I was fighting for, but from prejudice. 
I hated the South, and longed to grind it to powder. But 
Lieutenant Chester was ' proving his faith by his works/ 
You should have seen Eldon when he discovered me, Bertha. 
He recoiled as if from a serpent, and ejaculated : 

" ' Horace Stanhope ! — great heavens ! ' 

" ' Yes,' I said, bitterly, ' I am Horace Stanhope, killed, 
at last, by a Southern hand. There — your Colonel is my 
murderer! ' 

" I never saw such a face as that Ormund had, Bertha. 
I could not define its expression. The blood rushed over 
it, and left it in an instant white as death. Then he reeled, 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 335 

ami leaned on Eklon a moment. I wondered that he should 
feel so for a fatal blow given to a foe in battle. 

" Dear, that noble man first softened my stony heart ! 
The rock has been mouldering away since that hour ! You 
have finished the work that he began ! 

" He knelt down there, Bertha, and dressed the wound he 
had made with hands gentle as a mother's ; speaking words 
of comfort and hope to a fallen foe who had given him the 
first blow ! 

" I told him so, and he smiled strangely, saying he ' car- 
ried no feelings of revenge and animosity away from the 
battle-ground. He was in arms for the defence of his strug- 
gling native South, and cherished no personal unkindness 
for those who were fighting to subjugate it. Away from the 
battle-field he forgot we were his foes ! ' 

"I had never heard such a sentiment as that expressed 
before, Bertha, and it struck me dumb. I knew our men 
thirsted for his blood, in calm as well as storm ; and I felt 
warm toward the strange man. 

" He placed me as comfortably as possible, put a knap- 
sack under my head, and covered me with a blanket ; filled 
my canteen with water, and with cheering words to his foe, 
directing me to a better world beyond this ; and promising 
me speedy aid from my own men, he went away, bearing 
my late companion with him.* Why do you weep so, 
Bertha, my wife ? " 

" Oh, Horace, it 's enough to break a heart of stone ! " 

" Yes, dear ; and it broke mine ! That man sent informa- 
tion to our army by flag of truce, Bertha, and our men, ere 
long, bore me away from the clump of pines. I became 
delirious, then, and when I awoke to reason I was in your 
home. ' Colonel Ormund the Brave ' sent me to you by a 

* A truth ; related to the author by a wounded Federal soldier who 
died in hospital. 



336 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

blow in defence of his ' native South,' to receive your pardon 
for wrongs in this world, before I go to another. I know, 
now, the bravest in war are the kindest in peace ; and those 
we think wrong, are fighting hard from a feeling sense of 
duty and right. The result of the war will doubtless go 
against the South ; but they are a brave people in battle, 
and humane to their fallen foes. I can testify to #that, 
Bertha." 



CHAPTER LVI. 

OLD FRIENDS AND WAR-TIMES IN BERTH A ? S EARLY 
HOME. 

WALTER ELDON and Charles Chester were gone to 
the war as captain and lieutenant, and the old men 
and mourning wife of Walter sat in Mr. Redmond's home, 
watching for the return of the soldiers and Minnie, the 
wounded man's wife. Minnie had gone to Richmond to 
accompany her husband home, and Walter had obtained a 
furlough for the same purpose. 

There was no longer music and mirth, dancing eyes, and 
playful fingers in Edalia's home. Clouds of care and tears 
of torturing suspense had dimmed and darkened the olden 
brightness and bloom. Their negroes were all gone, saving 
Di and her old Christian mother, and a faithful old servant 
of Dr. Montrose, who had grown up with him. Even petted 
Dick had gone off with the Yankees, through fear of being 
" sold down South if he did n't escape to the North with his 
best friends!" 

They had experienced a trying time since the first gun- 
boat of the enemy steamed up the Roanoke and tarried at 
" Redmond's Landing." Negroes from the " low grounds " 



BEAUTY. 337 

and " back country " had hurried to their Northern liberators, 
bearing with them all they could steal from their masters. 
The Federal gunboats swarmed with white teeth shining 
through thick lips on black faces ; and their late owners 
felt relieved when they were gone. 

The Union soldiers wandered through the country in 
quest of arms and eatables — " beauty and booty " — and 
they did not return empty. The aristocratic residences 
around our heroine's old home made their eyes snap with 
satisfaction. Pigs and poultry, kine and sheep, became 
scarce in that section, before the Yankee gunboats, laden 
with patriotism, " fired up " and put back to Plymouth. 

Edalia and Minnie had heard the great guns bombarding 
Williamsville and Hamil as they came up, and soon learned 
our Bertha's town-home of other years was laid in ruins. 

But they trembled more when the brave defenders of the 
Stars and Stripes came to their residence to search the 
premises for hidden arms and ammunition. They would 
have been content had the enemy in blue captured only 
" contraband articles ; " and wondered if it were considered 
" treason " to possess silverware and silk clothing ! If it 
were, our friends were guiltless of the crime when the 
patriots were gone ! 

And they wondered, too, if "Uncle Sam's "purse would 
be benefited by the wealth that had been taken possession 
of " in the name of the Federal Government," — but they 
never knew. 

Walter Eldon's hat was captured by Union, and fitted 
perfectly. Soldier concluded, if the cap fit he 'd wear it ; 
and put his brass-lettered head-piece in his pocket. 

" You don't want that ! " exclaimed Edalia, with open 
eyes. 

" Guess I dew," said Yank, spitting lustily upon the carpet 
and rubbing it in with his shoe, covered with river-mud. 
29 W 



338 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"Oh, don't take my husband's hat!" pleaded the poor 
-wife, whose loving heart ached at the thought of losing any- 
thing that Walter used to wear. 

" Your husband is a Rebel, fighting against his Govern- 
ment, d him ! " snarled Patriotism, who was wearing 

his Government's insignia, and stealing for himself. 

" But he would n't rob your wife of your hat in your 
absence," returned Edalia, with tearful eyes. 

" That 's so, by ! We '11 knock the blazes out 'n the 

traitor 'fore he gits up tew our house — haw, haw ! " bring- 
ing one big yellow fist down upon the other hard, freckled 
hand, exultingly, and nauseating the apartment with his 
brandy-tinctured breath. 

Edalia appealed to the officer in command, who remon- 
strated with the soldier, and eventually prevailed upon him 
to put the hat down. Private relinquished it with a scowl, 
and repaid himself for the sacrifice in another quarter. 

Every drawer, nook, and corner was rummaged ; and 
Edalia wondered if they looked for war implements in the 
little pill-boxes they examined so carefully. Perhaps they 
hunted for percussion-caps, she concluded. 

Unfortunately, she had left her purse in a bureau-drawer, 
and it fell into the hands of the hat-admirer. 

Union Brass-buttons pounced upon it like a hawk upon 
a young brood, and no entreaties or arguments could pre- 
vail upon him to relinquish his prize. He walked off, 

chuckling over the " haul " he 'd made " out 'n that d 

Rebel in the big house!" 

Federal officer did n't interfere this time. Perhaps he 
thought it was too much like " slavery " to make a man do 
his duty twice in one day. Edalia was robbed of every 
dollar she had at command, by men who were fighting 
gallantly for their country /* 
*True incidents of the war, related to the author by the sufferer. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 339 

Edalia heard a scream from Di, and following the sound, 
saw the girl struggling in the grasp of a boy in blue, who 
was endeavoring to persuade her to accompany him to the 
boat. 

Di was a lady-like house-maid, and Philanthropist thought 
it hard she should remain in her present state of bondage. 
He resolved to break her chains by force, if she was too 
simple to throw them off. 

Di gave him her fist, without being particular where, and 
Free-soil secured the pugilistic hand. Then the girl screamed 
with terror. 

"If you're opposed to slavery, I should suppose you 
would be willing to leave the girl free to act for herself. 
She can go North or remain South, just as she prefers," said 
Mr. Redmond, dryly. 

" D your Rebel soul ! I'll give yeou slavery! " shouted 

Yank, snatching a pistol from his belt and discharging it at 
the old man's head, luckily without hitting the mark. 

Di screamed louder, and fell down in mortal fear ; while 
Edalia uttered a shriek of apprehension for her uncle, and 
little Edward and Eva made up a startling chorus. 

Officer arrested private, and sent him under guard to the 
gunboat. There was no money at stake, and he did his duty 
once more. 

This was the last time the Federal gunboats ascended to 
"Redmond's Landing." The whole country around was 
desolated, and there was nothing more for the locusts of 
war to eat. 

They had killed Mr. Redmond's last milch-cow. She was 
shot down by Patriotism before Edalia's eyes, the day it 
captured her purse; and there was little left, after their 
departure, for nature to subsist upon. 

The word " rebel " was a passport to outrage whenever a 
Southern man possessed aught that Patriotism coveted; and 



340 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

it became a parrot-note throughout the whole region of 
" Dixie." 

" Jones's Store " was sacked, although the proprietor was 
a foreigner without a relative, and had never been in the 
Southern army ; but there was whiskey under the roof, and 
Patriotism's throat was dry from fighting so bravely for its 
country ; therefore the merchant was a " rebel/' and, conse- 
quently, robbed. 

Nearly five years of struggling life had gone, and the 
hopes of the " Confederacy " had gone with them. The 
South had given its Northern enemies an opportunity to 
rob it of its wealth, and gained nothing to compensate it for 
the loss. They were poor in purse, and poorer in spirit, 
when old year Sixty-Four went out, and Sixty-Five came in. 

Charles Chester had been in hospital three months, before 
he could be removed to his home. This was the third wound 
he had received in the Southern cause, and the most severe. 

Walter had escaped with slight cuts and bruises from 
fragments of shell. 

Peter Simpkins was second lieutenant in Walter's com- 
pany ; lost an arm the first year of the war, and his pride 
was forever humbled. He was more endurable after than 
before his misfortune. Peter was still a bachelor at forty, 
but was about to marry his cousin. 

Rosa Simpkins, Peter's affianced, was neither handsome, 
talented, nor rich, but amiable and devotedly pious — the 
very one to help Peter on to a better world ; and he learned 
to appreciate her when his high head was brought low by the 
hissing bombshell that carried away his right arm. 

" Bertha the Beauty," in childhood, had heard Rosy say 
to her leader in a Methodist class-meeting, one day, she 
" wanted all the religion she could get." And it was thought 
she tried hard, and succeeded. 

Colonel Henley was killed in the first' battle at Bull Run, 



THE BEAUTY. 341 

and Mrs. Wilmer Tomlin Henley was ready for a third 
victim. But her chances for success were painfully slim, 
now that all her portable property had gone down the 
Roanoke in a Union gunboat, with men who were fighting 
for their country and feathering their nests. 

Dora was the wife of a Confederate general and the mo- 
ther of five children. She looked old and care-worn. 

Mrs. Colonel Wilmer was broken in spirit. The loss of 
her wealth broke her heart, figuratively; but her "fire was 
not quenched." 

Colonel Wilmer was a Whig and staunch Union man 
from the dawn of Secession ; but it did n't save his property. 
It went down the Roanoke with Patriotism in a Federal 
gunboat propelled by loyal steam, because the Colonel was 
a " rebel ! " He retained his land, simply because it could 
not be conveniently carried down the river. 

Dora drove up to Mr. Redmond's, to hear news from her 
husband, the day the soldiers were expected home. Her 
turnout was extremely interesting — an old creaking cart, 
with an older mule attached, who looked down in the mouth 
as mule could well look at his advanced age. Her oldest 
boy of eleven was the driver. 

There was not a carriage, horse, cow, or pig left in all 
that section, if it were worth transporting and could be 
found. 

To Dora's great joy, her husband accompanied the cap- 
tain and lieutenant. He had " run down" from Richmond 
for a few days, to see the wounded soldier safe and visit his 
family. It was a glad surprise to all parties. 

There were happier hearts under Mr. Redmond's roof, 
that first day of Sixty-five, than had gathered beneath 
it in many a dark month gone by. 

They saw the end of the war not far away; and though 
it would not bring independence to the "Southern Confed- 
29* 



342 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

eracy," it would bring peace to the country, and friends back 
to their mourning homes. 

They would be a conquered people, but the world would 
acknowledge them a brave one. They had fought valiantly 
in a hopeless cause, and failed through inferior numbers, 
and an enemy in their midst. 

The world wondered that they had " held out so long." 
Their strength was crushed, but their soul was not humbled. 
Their native and sectional pride burned brighter than ever 
before. They gloried in " State Rights " and " Southern 
chivalry," and their mental and moral superiority to the 
"fag ends" with whom they had fought. They had been 
pushed into rebellion by Northern aggression upon Southern 
rights, and lost their property and rights by attempting to 
vindicate their honor. Whatever the result might be — and 
they had no doubt of it now — they would accept it in as 
good faith as they had wielded the sword to defend their 
Southern soil and desolated homes'. 

" Might had conquered right," in their estimation ; the 
wheel of fortune had stuck in the mud, and though they 
had given their shoulder to remove it, no Jupiter had come 
to their assistance. Thousands had fallen in the ineffectual 
effort to push forward the car, and they were hopeless of 
being able to extricate it with the force that remained ; for 
the day of miracles was long past. They scorned the name 
of " traitor" and " rebel " as much as they despised those of 
"abolitionist" and " Black Republican." But for the last 
two, they would never have received the first. 

"That Carolina Colonel Ormund is a brave fellow, by 
Jupiter!" said Mr. Redmond, with something of his olden 
humor. " Gone right up, almost to the top notch of distinc- 
tion; while you, cowardly dogs, have held your own! " 

" There's luck in odd numbers," returned Walter, smiling, 
"and Percy refuses to change it for a higher-sounding title. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 343 

Might have been General now, but he declined the honor, 
after the battle of Winchester, for some unaccountable 
cause. Says he prefers the Colonel as a handle to his name; 
but I 'm inclined to the belief, something covert induced the 
declension." 

"Well, that's a strange piece of business! Got a wound 
in Winchester — bad one ? " 

"Not very. It healed in a month. The only wound he 's 
received in battle that required nursing despite his brave 
daring. And that came from that rascal Horace Stan- 
hope ! " 

Mr. Redmond came to his feet as though lifted by elec- 
tricity. He looked wild, and completely bewildered for 
some moments, staring at Walter with vacant eyes. Then he 
ran his fingers through his gray hair, as though collecting 
his scattered thoughts, and sat down slowly and dreamily. 

The company was struck by his strange manner and 
appearance. 

" Percy Ormund wounded by Horace Stanhope, did you 
say? " inquired the old man, soberly. 

"I said so, uncle. He wounded him in the arm, and 
then lamed his horse. Like to have broken the Colonel's 
neck by the fall, too ! " 

" If he 'd killed him, I might have thought something," 
said Mr. Redmond, gazing into the fire absently. 

" What would you have thought, Uncle Ned ? " Minnie's 
curiosity was wide awake now. 

"Oh, never mind. I don't tell my thoughts to such leaky 
mouths, by Jupiter! And so that rascal is alive yet, eh?" 

" I don't know, sir ; he was badly wounded." 

"Hey?" The old man's eyes dilated. "How do you 
know, I say ? " 

" I saw him after the battle, while looking for Charles. Per- 
cy, I think, gave him his death-blow. It was a bad gash ! " 



344 

"Percy — Percy Ormuncl killed Horace Stanhope?" 
Mr. Redmond had risen from his chair, and leaned on the 
back of it, with a countenance that puzzled the observers. 

" Percy wounded him with his sword, after Stanhope had 
shot him in the left arm. The fellow looked like a fury 
when he pointed to Percy, and said, 'There, your Colonel 
is my murderer ! ' " 

" And Percy — did he know him ? " 

"Never saw him till then, and only knew his name 
through my astonished exclamation. But I never saw such 
a face as he exhibited when Stanhope called him his mur- 
derer. I never knew him to tremble until he leaned on my 
shoulder, then." 

"Ha, ha!" 

" Why, Uncle Ned ! " exclaimed Minnie, in amazement. 

"And you think Stanhope will die ? " inquired the old man, 
without noticing her surprised face or impulsive language. 

" I think he can hardly recover, under the circumstances ; 
if it were a curable cut, under the most favorable." 

And Walter related the whole story to eager listeners. 

" Did the Colonel know his patient was the ex-husband 
of an old-time friend ? " asked Mr. Redmond, soberly, with 
shut eyes. 

" I found that he did ; but how he learned it I could not 
discover, though I tried to draw him out ; but I suppose it 
was through her writings, as an author's history is pretty 
apt to be dragged before the public, if it 's any ways peculiar 
— and Percy is very familiar with her works, and one of 
her greatest admirers." 

" Is Percy married ? " inquired the old man, coolly. 

"No, sir — never was." 

" Why, Uncle Ned, you blush like a girl ! " laughed 
Minnie, clapping her hands. 

"Oh! I see it now — he 's jealous of the Colonel ! If 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 345 

Stanhope dies, Esquire Redmond is going up after ' Bertha 
the Beauty,' and he 's mortally afraid of being cut out by 
1 Colonel Ormund the Brave! ' — say, Uncle Ned ? " 

11 Hum ! " grunted ' Uncle Ned,' as he laid himself back 
in his chair, turned up his nose, and sniffed, in smiling 
disgust. 

"Young folks," said the old man, seriously, "'there's 
a Divinity that shapes our ends, roughhew them as we will.' 
You think you 're doing your duty as soldiers, and the 
Yankees think they 're doing theirs, (some of 'em.) But 
the Lord knoivs what is right, and I believe He will do what 
is best for us all. I reckon the Confederacy is going to wreck, 
but it won't carry us all with it. I think we shall be able 
to survive, and some hearts will swim ashore from the 
foundered ship, and not grieve long over its loss. They will 
see it only carried them over the waters to a better land. 
You say the Colonel is pious ? " 

" I never saw a more practically pious man, sir ; and that 
is the secret of his bravery. He feels he is doing his duty, 
and is prepared to go into eternity when the summons 
comes ; and he is not afraid to die. I never saw a man so 
fearless of exposure ; and it is a marvel how he has escaped." 

" ' The Lord is a shield and buckler.' I reckon it '11 all 
come out right," said the old man, musingly, with a mystery 
shining about his mouth. 

" What will ? " asked Minnie, with curious eyes. 

" Oh, a good many things, if they work well — 'specially 
two." 

" I never did see such a man ! " said Minnie, shaking her 
shoulders impatiently, with a wrinkle between her half-shut 
eyes — "there 's no getting anything out of you, for love or 
money ! " 

" Oh, I 'm safe as a thief in a mill, by Jupiter ! " and 
Mr. Redmond put his hand on his mouth, and winked over 
his shoulder, so that Minnie could see. 



346 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 



CHAPTER LVIL 

THE LAST OF EARTH. — BERTH a's PRESENTIMENT. 

MR. OLNEY, the chaplain, was a constant attendant 
beside the cot of Horace Stanhope. Bertha would 
have removed her penitent husband to her home, with her 
parents' sanction — who had visited their son-in-law at the 
hospital and convinced themselves of his sincerity — had 
his situation rendered it prudent. But the old surgeon 
absolutely forbade it " for the present." 

Bertha believed he would recover, from the surgeon's 
evasive replies to her inquiries ; but Mr. Olney knew the 
doctor's opinion better than she was permitted to learn ; and 
when the seventh sun arose upon his living but suffering 
form, Bertha felt the danger was past. 

Horace smiled very sweetly when she expressed her feel- 
ings with this regard — as he had never smiled upon her in 
years gone by — but he did not encourage the thought. He 
felt more than she could comprehend. But her hopeful 
eyes alleviated his pains. 

"Dear," he said, tenderly, "it would be sweet to live, 
now that I have you ; but if it 's God's will, I am ready to 
die. I am not afraid now, my sweet wife. I might make 
you unhappy again if I should be restored — He only 
knows — and I would rather die now than do that, Bertha. 
Dear, I have done too wickedly for you to love me now, 
well enough to suffer much when I am gone; but you will 
love me always when we meet again. You have taught me 
how to die. Let that comfort you until you come to me." 

And then Horace Stanhope fell asleep, with her arm 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 347 

under his head, and his last kiss upon her lips — asleep from 
the excruciating pains that racked his emaciated form. 

" Bettair take vous arm from under de head, now," said 
the old surgeon, kindly, when she had sat there a long time. 

" It will disturb him ? " and Bertha looked inquiringly. 

" Nevair — he wake no more, madame. He under de 
influence of chloroform — sleep hisself to death — a-h ! 
Make him sleep to spare de pain. He die soon, certainement 
— no hope from de first — too long on de ground — vilain 
cut — a-h ! " 

Then Bertha knelt down and laid her head upon the 
faintly beating heart that had loved her so well through 
long years of anguish, even while it tortured her own ; and 
its last pulse throbbed against her tear-washed face. 

Horace Stanhope's handsome face — handsome even with 
its sunken features and graying hair — looked calm and 
happy in its last long sleep ; and Bertha was comforted by 
its placid and sweet expression. 

But her heart wept over the memory of her desertion and 
his subsequent sufferings — conscience condemned her for 
the past. Had she done her whole duty, he would not 
have sinned so grievously, and endured such remorse for his 
crimes. 

Bertha felt that she was more guilty than he, as she knelt 
there above that pulseless heart, and watched that grief- 
worn face. She could not forbear expressing her convic- 
tions of wrong towards her dead husband to the attentive 
chaplain. He said : 

/'When we lose sight of another's wrongs, our own are 
magnified. There are things censurable in the history of 
every one, even the best; for humanity will err; but let the 
consciousness that his earthly sufferings have led to eternal 
repose, and that you ' have taught him how to die,' soften 
your regrets. Perhaps by a different course on your part 



348 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

his infidel miud would never have acknowledged the true 
faith. The sealed volume of God's mysteries alone will 
reveal the secret of His ways, and the instrumentalities He 
employs to bring sinners to repentance and a knowledge of 
Him. 

" I do not believe that God imposes upon us more than is 
necessary for our salvation ; for ' He is good, and His mercy 
endureth forever.' Some require heavier chastisement to 
purify their soul, and your husband confessed his punish- 
ment was just. 

" From what I have learned, it was not your design to aban- 
don him wholly. He placed the barrier between you for all 
time ; and why should you grieve for what you could not 
avoid? You will say you might have avoided it by re- 
maining with him, and enduring until death ; but God saw 
from the beginning what the end would be, and nothing 
could change the course of human events that He knew 
would transpire in the journey of life. ' It is not in man 
that walketh to direct his steps,' and ' all things are wisely 
ordered, and nothing left to chance or fate.' He has, 
'through great tribulation entered into the kingdom,' and 
he does not regret now the sorrows that were a necessary 
means to bring him to that Rest." 

Bertha's restless mind was quieted, but not healed by the 
kind minister's efforts to soothe it to rest. She felt justified 
for her course, before knowing the desperate result of her 
desertion. Had he been happy with Louisa, she would 
have felt no such compunctions of conscience now. But 
she had driven him to crime and bitter remorse by her want 
of forbearance with his deathless love ; and Bertha's very 
soul grieved for the misery that was plainly read in that 
poor and pallid face. 

" Oh," she said, yearningly, to sympathizing Claude, 
" if he could but have lived long enough for me to take the 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 349 

soul-pain out of this sunken face ! It 's a monument to the 
memory of a violated vow, and will haunt me forever, al- 
though I know he is happy now. I ought to have died at 
the post of duty, rather than desert it and live. I wish I 
had ! " And Bertha fell back in her brother's arms, with a 
cry that startled him by its depth of woe. 

"It's all right," returned Claude; " 'what is to be, will 
be,' and you are no more guilty of wrong now, than when 
he drove you from him by dishonesty and jealous tyranny. 
You would not have been justifiable in heaven's or human 
sight, in giving your life and ours to gratify such as he once 
was. I am glad he saw his sins, and repented of them be- 
fore he died. God works through instrumentalities, and 
through you, Horace has entered into His rest. He made his 
own unhappiness, and you are not responsible for his suffer- 
ings. 'The way of the transgressor is hard,' and he only 
reaped that which he sowed. He rests now ; and don't make 
yourself miserable over fancied derelictions in duty. You 
will see clearer when you think deeper. Your thoughts are 
now on the surface of your own sins, and don't dive to the 
bottom of his. It will ripple off in silver bubbles in a little 
while; and God's will must have its w r ay ; — you are free 
now," said Claude, looking under her drooping curls soberly 
and intelligently. 

A sobbing sigh was her only answer; but Claude saw 
something in her eyes that troubled him; yet he would not 
question her now. 

It was all over. The muffled drum, the dead-march, the 
farewell shot over the soldier's grave, and Horace Stanhope 
was shut out for all time from the sunlight and blue skies 
that shone above his last resting - place, with only one to 
weep around his buried form. But if Horace Stanhope's 
spirit was permitted to look down upon his own grave, it 
smiled to see that lone mourner was the one he had so loved 
30 



350 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

in life, and in whose heart he longed most to be remembered 
in death. 

Bertha and Claude stood there beside that new-made 
grave, when the rest were gone, silent and solemn. 

" Oh, I 'in glad ! I 'm glad ! " and Bertha's small hands 
came together in a firm clasp as she spoke. 

Claude Belmont bent down and looked in her face with 
astonished eyes. He could hardly believe the evidence of 
his own senses. 

" You are glad, sister? " 

"Yes, I 'm glad ! — I 'm so glad, now, Bud ! " 

"Glad he 's dead?" and Claude's eyes opened wider. 

"Oh, Claude!" and Bertha shivered while she looked 
her reproach. "No, no ! I 'm glad I did n't marry Percy! 
Oh, if I had married him ! " and her wet eyes shuddered at 
the thought. 

Claude smiled with satisfaction. 

"I thought you would be glad some day — if' not in this 
world, in the next. You might have been justifiable by 
law, human law; but ' God sees not as man seeth'; and if 
you had not sacrificed your wish to His command, I believe 
Percy would not have escaped till now. That is my faith. 
There is retributive justice in the earth; and Percy might 
have fallen by the hand of Horace, and left you to atone for 
your sin by life-long penitence — who knows? But now, by 
obedience to Him through great sacrifice, Horace's last 
hours were brightened by your forgiveness and care; his 
soul is saved through your softening influence, and the 
'great net' that you couldn't 'shake off,' has been taken 
away by Him for whose will you were waiting, and you are 
wholly free now," said Claude, as they left the cemetery, 
trying to turn her thoughts into a pleasanter channel than 
they had been flowing through for many days. 

"I don't feel here," laying one hand over her heart, " that 



351 



Percy and I will ever meet again on earth. Horace said 
he had sinned too grievously to enjoy such happiness as 
restoration to health would yield after our reunion ; and I 
know something of his feelings now. If Percy should 
die," — with a soft catch of the breath, and momentary 
pause, — "I know it will be as a punishment for what 
Horace has suffered through me. It may be necessary for 
me to endure a greater cross, in order that I, too, may reach 
the crown — it may be ! " said Bertha, with a strange ex- 
pression upon her white face. 

" Poh ! poh ! " and Claude turned up his nose facetiously, 
and stretched his eyes at her, to drive the shade from her 
brow. " Such morbid thoughts are only the result of recent 
watchings and anxiety. They will fly away, when Percy 
comes in with another load ! 

" Such morbid thoughts will ruin your mind," he con- 
tinued, as Bertha only answered with a sickly smile ; " you 
have always been too brave and strong to be conquered now 
by a little blue imp — throw it away ! " 

" ' Throw it away ! ' That is what Horace said when we 
first met at the hospital, — ' throw it away ! ' " 

" Yes ; and there is another proof of the Lord's design. 
Try to read Providence aright. Horace assumed that name 
to screen him from his friends, if he fell in battle ; and had 
he not been wounded by Percy, and recognized by Eldon, 
he might have died upon some distant field, and never been 
discovered. Then you and Percy would have waited life- 
long, and only been rewarded in heaven — don't you see ? " 
said Claude, peeping under at her softening face. 

" If Horace had been restored, would you have been as 
happy with him as you would be with Percy?" he asked, 
presently. 

" No, no ! and that is why I am afraid — no, not afraid ; 
but I have a presentiment that I shall suffer for it. It may 



352 BEKTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

be a morbid fancy, and I hope it is ; but he loved me so 
deeply, through all, and I only pitied him at last!" con- 
fessed Bertha, with tearful eyes. 

"You are not responsible for that, sis. 'Love is not the 
growth of years, nor gift of will.' Jam more guilty than 
you. You were induced to marry him without love, and he 
was not one to win you afterwards. We are not answerable 
for what it is impossible to perform." 

" I would have performed my duty at any sacrifice, if he 
had lived, with divine assistance. It would not be so hard 
now, even if he were unchanged." 

"I think you would," said Claude, slipping his arm 
around her small waist as they walked, and lifting her over 
dry ground; "and let this satisfy you, now that God has 
seen best to remove him from between you and one you love 
— one who loves you as well as Horace, and has been more 
faithful, and has no stain upon his honor for you to re- 
member with regret in coming years, as you would una- 
voidably have done of Horace, had he been spared." 

Bertha was cheered and comforted by gay and affection- 
ate Claude, who would not suffer her to " snub sky-blue in 
a corner for other people's sins," as he expressed it with a 
whine and wrinkled-up nose. But there was a feeling about 
her heart in secret — a dead weight that she could not re- 
move — that Percy Ormund's finger-traces along the fair 
lines of a flag-of-truce letter only lifted away at last. 

Percy told her of his meeting with Horace Stanhope, and 
under what circumstances — not imagining she had heard it 
all, and more, from Horace's own penitent lips. 

If it was God's will, he said, that Horace should die by 
his hand, he thought it was an evidence of His favor 
respecting their future hopes; and advised her to look for 
the wounded soldier's name in the daily list of " killed and 
wounded." 



BEAUTY. 353 

Percy did not dream that Horace's name would never 
have appeared in print, had not Bertha met him before he 
died. 

Percy's second letter, after Horace's death, removed every 
feeling of self-reproach that had troubled her tender con- 
science since her dying husband's humble confession and 
plea for pardon. 

If Percy acquitted her of wrong, Bertha felt she was guilt- 
less; for her lover was so pure and good in our heroine's 
brown eyes, that she believed he could not look upon sin 
with any degree of allowance. The shadow melted away 
from her inner life, and she felt no sting of conscience for 
the past when she laid flowers upon Horace's grave. He 
was happy now in another world through God's infinite 
goodness and mercy, and she was hopeful in this. Percy 
had taught her faith in the Divine will concerning their 
future oneness in life as well as heart. 

Six months passed aw T ay, and "all quiet along the Poto- 
mac ! " was the daily cry. Colonel Ormund was with Lee's 
army at Richmond, and she " was quiet," so long as the 
lines along the Potomac were. 

Our heroine dared not think of a coming battle around 
the Confederate capital. She remembered Horace's de- 
scription of Percy when his State -flag was captured at 
Winchester; and she knew- well how he would fight to 
defend the archives of his country. But April came, and 
" Colonel Ormund the Brave " was among the list of " killed," 
in the last struggle for Southern independence ! 
30* X 



354 



CHAPTER LVIII. 

SHOULDER-STRAPS AND PRIVATE CAPS. — COL. ORMUND 
THE BRAVE. 

MR. OLNEY did not suffer his acquaintance with our 
fair heroine to end with her visits to the hospital, 
under his ministerial charge. He became a frequent visitor 
at her home, and evidently more enamored, by time. 

Bertha soon discovered his object, and deprecated the 
trying hour. It pained her to refuse a lover ; and she 
wished heartily all men's eyes were as loyal to their judg- 
ment as they professed to be to their Government. She did 
not mean those who stole from the United States Treasury 
by wholesale, and retailed private property under the plea 
of " military necessity." 

Berrlia was amazed at the many and great wrongs that 
had been perpetrated by men who professed to be brimminjy"v. 



with patriotism and running over with enthusiasm for the 
good of the Union. From what she had seen, and knew iu 
be true from reliable information, Bertha thought the 
patriotism of some men was overflowing, under shoulder- 
straps and private caps, not only for the "good" of the 
"Union," but for the "goods" of the whole people — South 
of Mason and Dixon's ! 

She wondered how plundering private dwellings, and 
sending the stolen goods up to the soldiers' Northern homes, 
in well-laden boats and cars, was going to benefit the Union, 
or soften the asperity between the two sections. 

Was it not unusual patriotism that set fire to an editor's 
establishment, and cut the hose to prevent the flames from 
being extinguished, simply because of a published article 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 



355 



respecting an outrage perpetrated by Union soldiers upon 
an Episcopal minister, at St. Paul's, upon the holy Sab- 
bath? That was a well-known fact in the community. 
And was it not great love of country that boxed up that 
editor's library, for transportation to "Sister Janes," " Aunt 
Sallys/' and " Cousin Susans," that was subsequently found 
stowed away under a wood-pile? Bertha thought it was; 
and her olden admiration for shoulder-straps and private 
uniform grew "small by degrees and beautifully less." 

Editor Snow was a staunch Union man from the dawn of 
secession, and thundered anathemas upon the leaders up to 
the day of dissolution ; then he subsided quietly, and retired 
from the contest, a non-combatant during the struggle for 
independence on one side and subjugation on the other. 

But Editor Snow suffered more at the hands of Union 
soldiers than the strongest secessionist, per se, in the city of 
Alexandria ! And if he did not become more attached to 
the cause for which he originally battled, through the in- 
justice and thievish propensities of those who had enlisted 
under the old flag, it was owing entirely to the perverseness 
of weak human nature. 

The cupidity and inhumanity of Northern soldiers embit- 
tered more Southern minds against the Federal Govern- 
ment, than Stephens, Sumner, and Phillips had succeeded in 
accomplishing in their thirty years' efforts, in public ha- 
rangue and private wire-pulling. 

And the war was prolonged by the exasperating measures 
of men who were paid from the national treasury to protect 
the Union. 

Mr. Belmont was a Northern man, and " true-blue for the 
Union," and Claude was a well-known loyalist; but men 
who were fighting for their country had robbed their store in 
darkness, and run off with their funds in daylight, before 



356 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

their eyes, and escaped punishment for the unsoldierly 
deed. 

Negroes who had escaped from their masters within the 
Federal lines, were knocked down and robbed, shot at, and 
in some instances killed, by those who professed to be their 
"best friends," and were fighting for their liberty. 

One honest, industrious, inoffensive colored man * was 
robbed of one hundred dollars on the holy Sabbath day, by 
soldiers who were fighting for their country. Some held pis- 
tols to his head, while others plundered his premises. Cut- 
ting a hole in the tin lid, they emptied the poor man's hard 
earnings, from his private box, into their patriotic pockets; 
and Shoulder-straps declared himself " afraid to interfere." 

" There 's bravery for you ! " said Bertha, when the tale 
was told ; and Mr. Olney's face flushed as he caught the 
sound of sarcasm. 

Innocent girls were consigned to endless infamy by the 
wiles and false promises of patriotic men, who spit scorn at 
the word " traitor." And many unsuspecting, susceptible 
daughters of Eve were married to brave defenders of the 
Nation's honor, who had wives in Northern homes. f 

Bertha and Claude ranked high among the list of "South- 
ern Loyalists " when the first Federal regiment took posses- 
sion of " the favorite city of Washington ; " and Percy Or- 
mund knew her mind when the old woodman looked under 
his broadbrim, and said, smilingly : 

" I reckon this little girl is Union at heart ? " 

But our heroine ere long acquired the reputation of being 
a " copperhead," simply because she " despised meanness," 
and could not indorse the unpatriotic, unjust, and inhuman 

* Alonzo Butler, son of the author's servant, who was emancipated 
by her owners twenty years before the war. 

f The incidents related in this chapter are facts known to the 
author. 



357 

deeds that were perpetrated daily by "loyal " men who were 
fighting for their country. 

Bertha was amazed at the conduct of Northern men, who 
professed to be friendly to the South, and only battled 
against it to defend the Nation's honor. She expressed her 
sentiments to Mr. Olney, one day. 

" You must not form your estimate of the Northern people 
by what you see here," he replied. " These men are not a 
fair specimen of the 'bone and sinew' of the North — 
merely the fag ends of creation ! " 

" I wish they 'd send us a 'fair specimen,' then," returned 
our heroine, dryly. 

" Butler, for instance," suggested the chaplain, facetiously. 

"Yes, under his 'Tower,' by way of the 'canal,'" said 
Bertha, soberly. 

" What would you do with him if he were yours by light 
of conquest?" 

"Send him to Barnum to exhibit in New Orleans. He 
never made a fortune out of a greater ' humbug ' ! " smiled 
Bertha. 

" I am no admirer of such extremists as Butler & Co.," 
replied the good man. " ' A soft answer turneth away 
wrath, but grievous words stir up anger;' — and 'molasses 
will catch more flies than vinegar,' " he added, with a 
pleasant smile. 

" If the Union soldiers possessed the spirit of President 
Lincoln, there w T ould be less hardness felt towards them by 
the Southern people, and less reluctance to yielding to the 
authority of the Federal Government." 

"And yet your people seceded because of his elevation." 

" Yes, and they see their error now. They fell into the 
power of their enemies by turning against their friend. I 
have heard Union officers and privates abuse him for a 
' traitor,' because he is generous and just ! " 



358 

" Everybody nowadays is a ' traitor ' and ' rebel,' who 
don't play into the hands of radical politicians," said the 
Christian conservative, with serious eyes. 

" Bertha the Beauty " liked her chaplain admirer, and 
shrank from the necessity of rejecting the offer she knew 
must come. 

She longed to forestall his declaration by informing him 
of her position, and thus spare him and herself the mortifi- 
cation and pain of proposing and declining. But modesty 
could not overstep the bounds, and no auspicious moment 
presented itself for her relief. 

" I wonder what that chaplain is after every day now," 
said Mr. Belmont, one evening, with sober face but twink- 
ling eyes. 

Bertha blushed furiously in spite of her indifference to- 
wards the man. 

"To administer spiritual consolation, I presume," re- 
turned Claude, resting his nose in the fork of two fingers, 
and staring hard at the hot grate. 

" Can't you tell ? " asked the old man, looking over his 
glasses at Bertha, with a remarkably innocent face. 

"No, sir; he hasn't informed me." 

" Sensible man that — don't dose his patient till he's sure 
of the state of the pulse," returned Mr. Belmont, scratching 
his head. 

" I wish he was sure then. I don't want his medicine." 

"Don't know but you'd better take the loyal man, and 
leave the Rebel, after all," said the old father, soberly. 

" Me t I would n't marry another Yankee to save the 
world and Long Island ! " replied our heroine, impulsively. 

Mrs. Belmont rocked back and laughed musically; and 
Claude took his nose from between his fingers and whistled. 

" Hum ! a saucebox, the best way we can turn you," grunted 
the Yankee father, — "what's the matter now, impudence? " 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 3^9 

" I don't think it advisable for the two sections to inter- 
marry. They are too unlike in every respect, and never 
can coalesce — always a house divided against itself, I don't 
care where you find them ; like ours — two against two ! " 
laughed Bertha. 

"But the most sensible are always on the right side — 
like my house, for instance," said Mr. Belmont, giving his 
head another dig. 

"Then the most sensible ought to make a wiser choice 
than to marry out of their own church. I wish it was 
against the law." 

" Then you would n't have the chaplain after you ! " 

"I wish I could get rid of him without hurting his sensi- 
bility. I respect and esteem the man ; but I would refuse 
him for his Northern origin, if there were no other reason. 
I know too well the uncongeniality of Northern and South- 
ern minds. I don't mean to be 'impudent,' pa. You 
know how I love you ; and you know, too, I 'm telling the 
plain truth without any disparagement." 

" I '11 warn the preacher against you then. You shan't 
have the honor of refusing another Yankee, by George!" 

" I wish you would ! I wish you would ! I 'd give any- 
thing to avoid it ! It is n't pleasant," said Bertha, clapping 
her hands in glee at the prospect of escape. 

"Think I can manage it better. Leave it to me," 
chimed in Claude, who w r as satisfied of her sincerity. " I 
can get you out without hurting him, by hinting at your 
situation." 

"That s a good fellow ! You've got some Southern blood 
in you," laughed Bertha, looking over at her good-natured 
father, deprecatingly. "But no exposure of names, mind you." 

"I'll manage it, I bet — trust me," said Claude, smooth- 
ing his moustache up, and stopping his nose with the ends. 

When Mr. Olney called next day, Claude Belmont was 



3G0 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

playing truant from his law-office, and " dropped in " to see 
the chaplain. 

"All quiet along the lines to-day?" inquired Claude, 
glancing at Bertha. 

"Not altogether — some fighting at the front. I think 
the ' tug of war ' has come at last, and the ' on to Rich- 
niond ' will soon end." 

Bertha grew suddenly white. 

" Take care ! " said Claude, looking straight at his sister ; 
" that touches where it 's tender." 

"Anything staked upon the result?" asked the chaplain, 
changing countenance rapidly, as he marked the change' in 
Bertha. 

" Everything upon one life ! No damage done yet, I 
suppose ? " 

" Only one noted Rebel killed, as reported ; and that is as 
encouraging to the Federals as the death of Stonewall." 

" Who is that ? " and Claude's face betrayed his anxiety. 

" Colonel Ormund the Brave — he — " 

Bertha sprang up with a scream that lifted the hearers to 
their feet, and with a moaning gasp fainted in the arms of 
her brother. It was the first time in her life of trial that 
our heroine had lost consciousness through sudden excite- 
ment and soul-pain, and Claude was terrified by her death- 
like seeming. 

Bertha had warned Claude against exposing names, but 
the name had exposed her. 

Mr. Olney knew " Colonel Ormund the Brave," who had 
given her remorseful husband his death-blow, was dearer to 
our heroine than Horace Stanhope was when they laid him 
in the soldiers' cemetery — dearer than h e could ever be- 
come, he feared, when he looked in that long insensible face, 
and saw no sign of returning life. 

But the good man left her restored to reason, and sobbing 



361 

in anguish with the pain he had unintentionally given her, 
thinking, perhaps, it was God's purpose to favor his hopes, 
by removing from between them the two barriers to their 
realization. 

Claude Belmont was half crazed by his sister's deep dis- 
tress ; still he exerted himself to comfort her by feigning 
unbelief in the report of Percy's death. " No rumor was re- 
liable in war-times," he said, cheerfully, "and the old boy 
would, undoubtedly, walk in at no distant day, and astonish 
the natives. He did n't believe in snapping up every re- 
port, and taking it for granted, when every wish was but 
father to the thought. Colonel Moseby had been killed sev- 
eral times during the war, and was alive, playing the mis- 
chief yet! So with Stonewall, McCullough, and all those 
who were most feared by the enemy. He did n't. believe 
God had brought things out so favorably for her and Percy 
thus far, to disappoint her at last." 

Bertha caught at this suggestion with all the eagerness 
that drowning hands grasp at straws, and felt a little com- 
fort in the thought ; but when weeks went by, and no word 
from Percy came, and the papers teemed with his death, and 
the manner in which " the bold Kebel met his fate for trea- 
son," she fell away into utter hopelessness of a reunion in 
this world, with him who was the life of her life, and who 
had tenderly counselled her to let not her faith in Him, who 
" doeth all things well," be shaken, if he should fall. 

She said, to the secretly distressed Claude, in utter de- 
spondency: 

" I told you so at Horace's grave. I had a presentiment 
then, that I should suffer, through Percy, to atone for the 
past." 

"I don't believe it yet," said Claude, trying to look bright. 
" It is written, f Put thy trust in the Lord, and He shall 
give thee the desire of thy heart.' Now, if Percy has fallen, 
31 



362 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

it will falsify this assertion ; and not ' one jot or tittle of 
His word shall fall to the ground, till all be fulfilled.' " 

"I know that; God is true, and if it fails, I have been 
faithless. I have not trusted, wholly ; and loved the crea- 
ture more than the Creator — that is my fear ! " she added, 
with a crimson flush rippling over her white face at the con- 
fession. 

"Besides," she continued, "it was foretold me in child- 
hood, that I should never marry but once ; and the predic- 
tions of the seer respecting my matrimonial life were so 
truthful, that it has impressed me with a belief in the whole. 
The superstition has followed me for years ! " 

" Poh ! what did the fellow say of your destined lord ? " 

" That he would 'come from afar ' — be 'very handsome' 

— would 'love me to death,' and 'be much of a dog' ! " 

" He hit the nail there, by George ! But what has hap- 
pened to come true in the past don't prove anything for the 
future. The old fellow could n't see through Horace's 
shadow to Percy's sunshine." 

" Yes ; I was trying for Percy, then. It was while he 
boarded with us." 

"Oh, ho! you were? What did the old humbug say of 
the boy ? " 

"He described him perfectly — said he was 'a noble fel- 
fow ' — that he ' loved me,' but I would ' never marry him ' 

— why, he could not tell — he was ' lost in a fog,' and 
could n't ' see clear ' — but he ' never saw so many crosses 
in one hand as I had in mine ' ! " 

" Humph ! Well, I don't believe the old pretender fore- 
saw it, if it all comes true. The Lord don't give such wis- 
dom to mortals in this day and generation of vipers ! and I 
hope you won't suffer your mind to be affected by the old 
impostor's guess-work. I'd like to pound him for his pre- 
tensions to omniscience, by George! I see now what you 



THE BEAUTY. 3G3 

were moping about, after Horace died. You thought be- 
cause he 'loved you to death,' the rest was bound to come 
true ! " 

" And it has ! " said Bertha, striving to appear calm. 

" Nothing like it, sir ! " returned Claude, recalling, by the 
language, an association that made our heroine smile irre- 
sistibly. " The end is not yet, unless it is the end of night. 
I can see the daylight through the dark, in spite of the old 
rascal's prediction. Such fellows ought to share the fate of 
the witches in Saul's day, ■ I swan ! ' Anyhow, don't give 
up the ship, and break your heart over the wreck, until you 
know it has gone down, and see the splinters on the shore ! 
Many a sail has got safely into port after being lost for 
years ; and I don't believe God designs this one to go down 
in deep waters just yet," said the loving brother, with as- 
sumed cheerfulness. 

Claude Belmont felt less hope for Percy's life than he af- 
fected to feel. He had seen more published accounts of his 
death, in defending the " Rebel capital," than Bertha was 
permitted to read ; but he felt justifiable in the w T ell-meaut 
deception, for the sake of her life and his home. 

Our heroine was idolized by her parents and brother, and 
Claude thought by familiarizing her mind with the contem- 
plation of her lover's death, while cherishing a hope of his 
life, would stretch her power of endurance gradually, and 
not snap the cord by a sudden wrench, when the full con- 
viction of his loss was felt. 

Bertha tried hard to submit patiently to the decree of 
heaven, and bear up bravely under this greatest cross of her 
life, for the sake of "the loved ones at home"; but her 
health failed in the black shadow that fell over the sunshine 
of her life ; and Claude's gay tone and hopeful smile died 
quite away in heart-ache, when the physician said there was 
but little hope of his patient's recovery. 



364 BERTHA ; THE BEAUTY. 

CHAPTER LIX. 

LAST SCENE IN BERKSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS. 

THE last scene in the dilapidated frame house, in Berk- 
shire, Massachusetts, is in the latter part of October, 
1864. 

It was a cold but sunbright day, and nature looked barren 
and bleak in the lonely hollow, shut in by gloomy granite 
mountains. 

The sweetest month, in the South, looked grim and griev- 
ing in the frosty air of the rock-bound North — all wrinkled 
and worn out as December in our heroine's early home. 

The old house was unchanged, excepting a darker shade 
from the soiling hands of the passing years ; but the inmates 
had grown old, and hard, and dried up, with daily toil. 

" Newt " was married and gone, and " little Mat," of four- 
teen years ago, was a young woman of eighteen, with a seem- 
ing of ten years more, 

But there was a baby yet, with regular rounds between it 
and the baby of fourteen years agone, besides twins between 
the two. 

Silas had a houseful that day, for " Uncle Enos " and 
" Gid " had driven over to look at a new mowing-machine 
"'Lonzo " had sent up from "New Yorick," as a present to 
his hard-working brother ; and " 'Lonzo," Allyn, and Han- 
nah " popped in," before they had finished inspecting and 
admiring the " labor-saving git-up." 

"Uncle Enos" and "Gid" accepted an invitation to re- 
main to tea, in honor of the city folks' arrival. 

Gid was married, but his "wife would n't take on 'bout it, 
'cause she knowed where he was," Silas said. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 3G5 

" 'Pears like yeou don't look bright as a new pin," 
said Uncle Enos, slapping Alonzo on the knee to wake 
him up. 

" Then my looks don't deceive you ; I have sad news of 
Horace." 

11 Hey ? has Horace turned up at larst ? Ben a good many 
years since he let a body know where tew find him. Where's 
the dog?" 

" In his grave ! " 

A sudden silence reigned. Martha was the first to break it. 

" Yeou don't say so, 'Lonzo ! be yeou certain ? " 

" Certain ! Bertha saw him die." 

" Bertha ! " ejaculated Martha. 

" I swan ! " said Silas, wiping his eyes with his sleeve. 

"Dew tell a body straight eout, and don't pinch it off so," 
requested impatient Martha. 

At Horace Stanhope's earnest desire, Bertha had written 
his full confession, together with her reasons for remaining 
unmarried, to be transmitted to Alonzo, if he should not 
recover, and appended his own signature to the letter, with 
the request that it should be communicated to his friends. 
He could not die calmly, without making this atonement for 
the past. Bertha added a postscript, after his death, and 
fulfilled her dead husband's last desire. 

Alonzo read the letter, with many a pause and choking 
down of emotion. 

The men set their teeth hard, and bore it bravely, with 
only an occasional dash of the hand across the eyes; but the 
women broke down and cried as only women can. 

If God had not given woman the blessing of weeping 
away her woes, the world would be full of broken hearts. 
Tears are the safety-valve to softer and more sympathizing 
souls than self-controlling men possess. Woman is a weaker 
foundation, but a stronger shelter than man. 
31* 



366 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

"Pure fellow! " said Uncle Enos, with solemn e) T es. "I 
be glad he repented and died right." 

"And I thank the Lord, Bertha found him before he 
died," returned Alonzo, "for he loved her enough to have 
been a better man." 

" I swan if he did n't! " said Silas. 

" The Lord led him in a way that he knew not ; and if 
he hadn't found her, he would 'a' gone tew the pit;" and 
Deacon Enos groaned. 

" New reason for not marryin' agin, seems tew me," said 
unregenerate Gid. "I don't see no use in livin' single, when 
the law 's on my side. I 'd 'a' done it if I 'd ben in her shoes, 
you may bet high, and win every time ! " 

" The child 's right," replied the Deacon, with snapping 
eyes ; " this divorce law is a mean business, and a dangerous 
one, tew, I tell yeou ! If the law was agin marryin' after 
bein' divorced, there would n't be so many separations of 
man and wife, sure 's a gun. A man takes a wife, and swears 
to stick tew 'er as long as they tew shall live, and if he 's a 
mean scamp, and takes a hankerin' after a new face, he '11 
kick up a muss, and git a divorce, and marry agin. It 's 
agin the scriptur, anyhow, and no rale Christian will dew it." 

" It 's nothing more nor less than prostitution, when you 
look at it right, if human law does recognize it," said Alonzo ; 
" and the law is a curse to the world. If a first marriage 
proves unfortunate, and the divorced parties marry again, 
the second union is as unhappy as the first, observe it when 
you will ; and public censure naturally falls upon the one 
who has been separated from a former husband or wife, 
whether they merit it or not. It seems to be a fatality that 
invariably follows the violation of a marriage vow. There 's 
Mima Koseby, whose first husband ran away from her, and 
after a divorce her second followed suit ; and — " 

" And her third '11 dew that same, sure fire, if she gits 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 367 

him !" interrupted Gid, knocking his fists together, by way 
of emphasis. " Dang my eyes, if I 'd live with her a week, 
if there was a divorce law in the land ! She's worse 'n half 
a dozen cats under a kitchen after dark — by jing ! " 

" And but for the law of divorce, she never would have 
married but once, if her first husband had died when he de- 
serted her, in all probability; but Roseby, relying upon 
legality, in defiance of her reputation as a shrew, tried the 
experiment of taming her, and found his strength inadequate 
to the effort. Now he '11 have the Gordian knot cut, and 
marry again, probably ; and his second wife will run off* 
from him, just as like as not, as a punishment for his sin — 
and so it goes," said Alonzo, seriously. 

" I 'in not surprised at some separations," spoke up Allyn ; 
" for it 's an impossibility to live with some people without 
sending one's soul to perdition ; but and if they depart, let 
them remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to their hus- 
band or wife. And you may take it for granted, the one 
that marries first, after such a separation, is the guilty 
party, in the first instance ; for a man or woman who has a 
w T icked husband or wife, is never in haste to enter into a 
second union after their death. They get enough of matri- 
mony to last them some years ; and a burnt child dreads 
the fire ! But where they are happily wedded, and death 
divides, they '11 marry again soon, if they get a chance." 

" Cousin Bertha ben't single 'cause she could n't git a 
chance, you may bet high ! " responded admiring Gid. 
" Dang my eyes, if she wer'n't the pootiest pictur that my 
peepers ever lit on, by jing ! And Horace was jealous as a 
Chinee 'cause I said so, pure boy ! He could n't help it, I 
guess ; and if he had n't been so green-eyed he 'd ben a-livin' 
now, and happy as a fellow ought tew be this side o' Jordan ; 
for Cousin Bert was a rale good little thing, and took his 
crossness easier than I thought she ought tew a done. I 'm 



368 

glad he owned up tew 'er 'fore he went; 'cause it '11 be a com- 
fort tew 'er tew know she did n't live single for no good." 
And happily married Gid looked truly sympathizing, as he 
thought of our heroine's unfortunate state of celibacy. 

"Bert'a was a beauty, that's so ! " exclaimed the Deacon, 
enthusiastically ; " and I give Horace a good long warnin' 
agin his greenness, one day, and showed him his luck in 
gittin' such a sweet little wife, and how he ought tew try 
tew be grateful tew God, and make her happy, 'specially 
now she was away from home ; but it did n't dew a mite o' 
good. 'T was bred in the bone, and could n't come out o* 
the flesh, and he suffered for his sins, pure fellow ! " 

" And they were scarlet ! " sighed Alonzo. 

" Yes, but the Lord made them w r hite as snow," said good 
Martha. 

"That's the only comfort now r ," returned Alonzo, who 
loved his brother despite his crimes. 

" Death-bed repentance is a doubtful hope ; but there are 
rare instances of such conversions, as in the case of the thief 
on the cross. But for that, I should doubt the possibility 
of being accepted by the Lord then, after a whole life had 
been given to the devil." 

" The old fellow got cheated that time," said Gid, whose 
merry heart could not long remain depressed. " I 'm 
going tew give him fair warnin' not to wait for me, so's 
not tew be disappinted at larst ! " 

"You '11 have tew turn over a new leaf then, and git up 
early tew fool him ! " replied the Deacon, rubbing his 
mouth to shade an incipient smile. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 369 



CHAPTER LX. 

A SPEEDY REACTION. — THE LOST IS FOUND. 

IT was late in May, and all nature was smiling without, 
through sunshine and blue skies, green leaves and fra- 
grant blossoms ; but Claude Belmont sat withm, beside his 
slumbering sister — beautiful even in deathlike whiteness 
and wanness — and the loveliness of nature was lost to the 
weeping-hearted brother. 

The solemn-faced physician said Bertha must die, without 
a speedy reaction of the mind ; and Mr. Belmont's home was 
darkened by the brooding wings of the last enemy of man- 
kind ; for all hope of Percy Ormund's return to claim his 
bride was extinguished. 

The war was ended. Richmond had fallen. General Lee 
had surrendered; his army had been paroled, and Percy 
was silent. Had he been living, they would have been ap- 
prised of the fact through some source, for Colonel Ormund 
was indefatigable. 

Claude was watching his sleeping sister, and wondering 
at the ways of Providence. Claude's heart was hardening 
in the winter of her strange fate. He wondered why God 
had left her to die of silent sorrow, when he had promised 
a different end to those who trusted in His word. He could 
not believe such suffering necessary to bring her — so good 
and pure in heart and life — to a land of rest, across the 
waves of Time. 

Claude's heart rebelled against the decree of Heaven, and 
his face looked hard as he felt. 

He tried to evoke a softer spirit, by thinking the afflic- 

Y 



370 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

tion was for some wise purpose beyond his finite views ; but 
the iron would not melt — the heat of feeling was too low 
in the furnace of desire. 

The door-bell sounded, but did not rouse him from dark 
dreams. 

" Gentleman wants you, Mister Claude." And the ser- 
vant disappeared. 

Claude went down the stairs, slowly and solemnly ; but 
his countenance changed like leaping light through a dense 
cloud, when his sunless eyes fell upon the " gentleman," for 
" Colonel Ormund the Brave," bearing evidence of long 
confinement, stood before him. 

Claude Belmont bounded forward and caught Percy 
around the neck, with a glad outflow of tears that did not 
shame his manhood. Bertha would live now, he thought, 
for a "speedy reaction" would follow her lover's re- 
turn. 

The phase of nature was changed in a moment for happy- 
hearted Claude. He fell down on the sofa and laughed, 
and clapped his hands like a new convert. 

" Hallelujah ! " shouted Claude, softly. "I '11 never doubt 
the Lord again, I think ! Dog if I was n't growing fearfully 
hard under the pressure! — makes me feel guilty of treason ; 
but I '11 take the oath of allegiance now ! " looking signifi- 
cantly at the late Kebel in arms. 

Colonel Ormund's thin face lost its whiteness and gloom 
before the brother's rejoicings, but he went slowly and pain- 
fully up the stairs to Bertha's chamber. His wound was 
yet unhealed. Percy touched lightly the pale, grieving 
mouth of the slumberer with his own, and left a tear upon 
her white cheek. 

She seemed to feel his presence even in sleep, for a soft 
smile broke over her tingling cheek and settled around her 
lips ; and when she awoke, " Bertha the Beauty " was in 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 371 

the arms of him she had thought never to meet again on 
earth — " Colonel Ormund the Brave ! " 

Colonel Ormund was wounded by a sharpshooter while 
defending the weakest point around the Confederate capital, 
and the event, perhaps, saved his life in subsequent attacks 
more violent and sanguinary. 

"There goes a stronghold ! " cried the officer who watched 
the result through a glass from the point of observation, — 
" ' Colonel Ormund the Brave ' is down ! Three cheers for 
the Union ! " 

The men sent up a shout, and " Colonel Ormund the Brave 
is killed ! " ran along the lines as an encouragement to the 
troops, and was brought up to Alexandria with rejoicings.' 

Percy was borne off insensible, and the weak point be- 
came weaker, and ere long the United States flag waved 
over it. The " shepherd was smitten, and the sheep were 
scattered ! " 

"Colonel Ormund the Brave" was carried by Walter 
Eldon without the city limits, to the quiet home of Agnes 
Bentley of former years (now Mrs. Leroy), and tenderly 
nursed by that sympathizing friend, for his own sake as 
well as for Walter's kindness in other years. Her husband 
was a surgeon in the Southern army, and Percy was well 
attended. 

His wound was in the head — not considered mortal, but 
such as to cloud his intellect ; and only partial recognition 
of friends and passing events was perceptible to the faithful 
watchers for many long days ; and the war with the South 
had culminated in the assassination of President Lincoln 
by one who had no Southern blood in his veins, ere Percy 
awoke to the full consciousness of his situation, and the 
overthrow of the Confederacy. 

Then his thoughts went after Bertha, and he wondered 
if she had heard of his fall. Walter wrote thrice, but 



372 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

no answer came to relieve the lover's anxiety, and Percy- 
could not be held longer in Dr. Leroy's home. God raised 
him up in time to save our heroine from a premature grave, 
and Claude from unbelief! 

" Colonel Ormund the Brave " and " Bertha the Beauty " 
were made " one flesh " before the golden sun that gilded 
that sweet May day went down the purple pathway of 
the west, and the dream of twenty years ago was realized 
at last ! 

Percy insisted upon an immediate marriage. He said 
" they had waited long enough, in his opinion, and there 
was no necessity for a longer delay. He wanted a legal 
right to watch with her during her further illness, and not 
send up his card with his compliments until she was fully 
restored." 

Bertha's cheeks crimsoned, and she shut her eyes tight, 
as he bent over to look into their shining brown depths. 

" I say, Mrs. Colonel Percy Ormund," said gay Claude, 
when the marriage ceremony was over, and her husband's 
glad bosom pillowed her happy head, " where 's your old 
humbug now — hey ? " 

Percy looked inquiringly at his buoyant brother-in-law, 
and Claude related the whole story, with laughable illus- 
trations of her woe-begone appearance, under the influence 
of the old impostor's prognostications. 

The smiling bridegroom turned up his nose at her in 
affected disdain, and then dipped down and stopped her 
mouth with his own. 

" It ought to be puuishable by law for human beings to 
arrogate the wisdom that belongs only unto God," said 
Percy. " I care not how strong a mind may be, such pre- 
dictions are poison that gets into the bones, and makes itself 
felt under some circumstances — such as my little wife was 
subjugated by ! " and Percy Ormund's spiritual eyes smiled 



BEAUTY. 373 

down into hers with a tender light that repaid our fair 
heroine for all her past sufferings. 

"But she might have been Mrs. General Ormund, if I 
had not refused the honor for a reason," continued Percy, 
opening his eyes at her playfully, with a most innocent ex- 
pression. 

"What the mischief did you do it for? " queried Claude, 
with face full of wonder. 

" After the battle at Winchester I said, if it was God's 
will that Horace Stanhope should die by my hand as 
Colonel, I would never exchange the title for one of a higher 
rank ; and I never will ! " said Percy, in a tone and with a 
face that left no doubt of his determination. 

" Well, that beats me ! " exclaimed Claude, caressing his 
moustache, and looking at the Colonel and his bride, with 
eyes brimming with satisfaction. 

"I'm glad you did," said Bertha, softly. 

" Why, dear ? " and Percy bent over the soft mouth with 
tender fondness. 

" Because I met you first, after many years, bearing that 
title ; and I shall always love it best, now — it seems a part 
of you," smiled Bertha, significantly. 

" Yes, by George ! " and Claude started up with renewed 
animation. " Colonel and old Broadbrim are one and insep- 
arable, ' you know ! ' I said she 'd feel better when Percy 
came in with another load ! " and gay Claude turned on his 
heel and went out of the chamber, with shoulders humped, 
and holding his nose ridiculously, to Percy's great amuse- 
ment. 

The old French surgeon was called in to examine Percy's 
wound, and set their minds at rest by saying, in his jovial 
way: 

" No dangair, madame. Get well eertainement, moil amie. 
Keep cool, monsieur — a-h ! " 



374 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

" Bertha the Beauty " recovered rapidly after the " men- 
tal reaction," and introduced her husband to the chaplain, 
not long after their happy marriage, as " Colonel Ormund 
the Brave." 

Mr. Olney's smile was sad when he offered his congratu- 
lations to the happy pair, but he bore his disappointment 
bravely, and soon left their vicinity for a more southern 
field of action. 

Colonel Ormund and wife went North during the summer, 
to their subsequent regret, as it furnished them with proofs 
of Yankee bitterness and yearning for Southern blood, that 
was highly displeasing to Christian minds. Men who had 
not shouldered a gun in defence of the Union, and did all 
their fighting with their tongues, were not satisfied that the 
war should end until the South was utterly crushed by con- 
fiscation and Northern emigration, and every Rebel of rank 
had dangled at the end of a rope ! It was an entirely dif- 
ferent religion from their own and President Johnson's gen- 
erous, manly spirit, that hung out its sign in New England ; 
and our hero and heroine stood aghast at the strange sight ! 

One, bearing the sacred title of Reverend, said to Bertha, 
whose brown eyes flashed indignant scorn in his would-be in- 
sulting face : 

" Virginia has got to have her nose put to the.grindstone, 
and then pay for the turning ! " * 

Bertha subsequently remarked to the amused Percy, with 
a spice of vindictiveness irrepressibly evoked : 

" If that patriotic preacher had his nose put to the grind- 
stone, he could get it turned for him, in Virginia, without 
pay/" 

Percy's head fell back against the chair, and his blue 
eyes laughed away her wrath, as he replied cheerfully : 

" 'Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.' 
* Facts, for which the author is responsible. 



375 

These men think they are the Government, but the Govern- 
ment don't recognize them. My trust is in the Lord and 
Andrew Johnson ! " 

Our Colonel and wife returned to Virginia before the 
summer was ended, owing to the offensiveness of the spirit- 
ual atmosphere, firmly resolved never to be submerged in 
such an uncongenial element again. 

"Colonel Ormund the Brave," and "Bertha the Beauty," 
his God-given wife, were henceforth " content to breathe 
their native air on their own ground." 



CHAPTER LXI. 



MR. REDMOND "LETS THE CAT OUT." — HOME SWEET 
HOME, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. 

IT was September, in Edalia's home. "Walter had gone 
to Tarboro', and Edalia and Minnie were impatiently 
awaiting his return. 

Tarboro' was the nearest post-office to their home ; one 
had not y^t been established at Williamsville, and the 
friends hoped to hear from Bertha on Walter's return. 
They had not received a line from her in five years. 

Walter had informed them of her engagement to Percy 
Ormund, at the close of the war. Mr. Redmond sprang 
from his chair, rubbing his hands furiously, with flashing 
eyes. 

" Ha ! ha ! ha ! Good ! I thought so, by Jupiter ! " 

" You thought what ? " queried Minnie, with a drawl. 

" I thought the Lord would bring it out right. They 've 
loved each other twenty years ! I saw it when he boarded 



376 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

with Belmont ; but he did n't, the blind bat ! I wish I 'd 
managed it for 'em, by Jupiter! but I wasn't quite sure; 
she was such a shy thing. If Belmont had taken him back 
when he requested it, 't would a saved her a world of suffer- 
ing — poor child ! But I reckon it 's all right ; the Lord 
knows what 's best for us." 

" Well, well ! and I never dreamed it, with all my keen- 
ness ! " laughed Minnie. " But no wonder, for she would n't 
ever talk about him, and seemed as cool as November to- 
wards him, at that." 

" The very best proof of her warmth, by Jupiter ! Girls 
who show fair don't feel so much, after all — their love is 
only on the surface ; but still waters run deep. ' Bertha the 
Beauty' was n't one to show a great deal, but the very mis- 
chief to hide, by Jupiter ! I tried to draw her out one day, 
when Percy was gone, but she first glowed like a red-hot 
ember, and then froze as hard as mid-winter. I let her 
alone after that, but I kept a deuce of a thinking. And the 
belief followed me, until conviction came, with the confes- 
sion that Ed said Bertha had made just before her marriage, 
without betraying the name of the object. 

" Well, Percy is a lucky fellow, and he deserves it for his 
twenty years' constancy. I reckon she looks beautiful now, 
if she is thirty-four. She '11 be handsome at sis,ty, I '11 bet 
two chincapins, by Jupiter ! " and Mr. Redmond dropped 
down upon his chair, and stretched himself out at full 
length, with a grunt of intense satisfaction. 

Mr. Redmond's home presented a more cheerful aspect 
now than when we last visited it, although most of its valu- 
ables had gone North to furnish soldiers' homes. But Eda- 
lia's smiles had returned with Walter safe from the war, and 
Minnie was merry as old, since Charles was wholly restored. 
"Father Eldon," "Uncle Ned," and the children rested 
from daily apprehensions of a gunboat at "Redmond's 



377 

Landing," and some of their best and most intelligent 
former slaves had returned, and settled down in their 
cabins around the "'great house," glad to find themselves 
among their old friends once more, after their experience 
among strangers. 

Dick was one of the number, and cheered his old master 
more than all the rest of returning prodigals, for Dick was 
Mr. Redmond's " brag boy " from babyhood. Dick was 
black as the ace of spades, and his white eyes and teeth ren- 
dered him truly interesting as a portrait. He played the 
banjo and danced to his own music, and was never afflicted 
with the blues. 

Aunt Cora and Di were Dick's mother and sister ; and 
the old lady shouted in real Methodist style when her truant 
boy came " home from the war." 

Peter Simpkins was returning home from Williamsville, 
after General Lee's surrender, when his eyes fell upon Dick, 
trudging along the highway, somewhat in advance. Peter 
was glad. 

" Hello ! Dick, is that you, boy ? " 

Dick turned as though he had been shot. 

" Yes, sah ; dis is me, sartin shore. How d' ye do, Mars 
Pete?" said Dick, shaking Peter's left hand till his arm 
ached with 'the exercise. "Dis nigger's gwine home, he is. 
Been 'way long 'nuff. Got 'nuff o' strangers an' de Norf, 
he is. sartin shore ! Ding if I ain't glad I'se mose dare 
now. Mose froze las' winter, dis nigger did, sartin shore! 
Mose broke his heart longin' for de warm corner in de 
kitchen at ole marster's! Yes, sah; dis nigger's gwine 
home, he is, sartin shore, Mars Pete." * 

Peter took Dick up in his gig, and put him down at Mr. 
Redmond's gate. 

" 'Squire, I 've brought your boy back, free of charge. 

* A truth well attested. 
32* 



378 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

First time you 've had a foreign visitor, in some years, with- 
out paying dear for it! " laughed Peter, as he drove on. 

When Dick was fairly settled in his old home again, he 
lay down on the piazza-floor and rolled with delight, with 
little Ed and Charlie tumbling over him, in high glee. 

"Gosh! " said Dick, laughing and crying,, "ef I ain't got 
'nuff o' some folks, an trav'lin', I would n't say so, sartin 
shore! — dat's me, marster." 

"Well, Dick," returned Mr. Redmond, smiling with 
satisfaction, "there's nothing like trying, and I'm glad 
you know now, from experience, who are your 'best 
friends.' " 

" Dat 's de trufe, sah. I nose 'em. Can't fool dis nigger 
no more, sartin shore ! Ain't like our folks, sah. Pays you 
all in perliteness, an' dat 's what we niggers can't live on in 
war times, — dat's me! Dey ax me what my name is, an' 
I say 'Dick Redmond. ' Den dey say: 'Mr. Redmond, 
please to black my boots ;' an' when I done do it dey say : 
'Well, Mr. Redmond, I s'pose I must pay you ten cent?' 
and I gits it, but sometimes it won't pass no furder, — done 
gone and give me counterfeit, sah, sartin shore ! Den South- 
ern gen'leman come 'long an' ax me my name, an' I say 
1 Redmond,' 'cause t'other one say 'Mister.' Den Southern 
gen'leman ax me if dat's all de name I got, an' I say ' Dick, 
sah.' Den he say : ' Here, Dick, you rascal, black my boots.' 
An' he ax me how I gits on, an' I say, 'Poorly ; wish I was 
back wid ole marster ; an' I 's gwine, too, sartin shore ! ' 
Den when I done ' black 'em up, an' make 'em shine, like 
dandy Jim o' Caroline,' he say: 'Here, Dick, is a dollar for 
you ; now don't go drink it up, you black scamp!' An' I 
say, ' No, sah, sartin shore ! ' wid a heart full o' glad, sah. 
Oh,' I tell you, I likes Southern folks heap de most, sah, — 
dat's me!" said Dick, with a broad grin. 

" Well, Dick, I 'm glad you 're back again, and satisfied 



BEAUTY. 379 

with } T our experience among Yankees. I '11 do the best I 
can for you, boy; but I 'm a poor man for the present, Dick. 
Lost all my property that could be carried down the river, 
and some that could n't. They burnt all my boats, and left 
me without one to cross the Roanoke in." 

" Lordy massy, marster ! " said Dick, with white eyes 
rolling. 

" Yes, Dick, they piled 'em up, and set fire to the heap, 
and then left the Landing. Jared (the boatman) extin- 
guished the flames when he fancied himself secure from ob- 
servation ; but pretty soon the gunboat was observed steam- 
ing back again. 

"'D your Rebel soul! ' shouted the officer in com- 
mand ; * I '11 blow your infernal brains eout if yeou don't put 
them things together agin, and set 'em a-fire, yeou secesh 
devil!.' 

"And Jared, poor fellow ! was forced to obey, with a pistol 
pointed at his head, and see the work of his hands reduced 
to ashes, just because it was the property of a Southerner, 
and would be of some service to him, though no damage to 
the Federal Government." * 

Dick shut his eyes and heaved a groaning sigh, with an 
irritable kick of one foot against the piazza rail. 

" Well, sah, dat 's de way dey done do everywhar I been 
wid 'em, sartin shore ! Up dare at Elexandry, sah, dey done 
clean our Southern folks out, and planners and sich did n't 
stand no chance. They tote 'em through de dark, and hide 
'em 'way till dey could git a chance ter send 'em up Norf. 
I seed it, sah, and it make me bile, sartin shore ! Out dare 
at de Fairfax Seminary, whar dey used to make preachers 
'fore de war, one woman, from New Jarsey, who was nussin' 
de Yankeys 'cause she was so good, done stole every thing, 

* A fact known to the author. 



380 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

sah, she could lay her hands on, and sont it up home, sartin 
shore ! * 

" I reckon, sah, dey '11 have some big auctions up Norf 
'fore long, 'less dey did n't have nuthin in dare houses 'fore 
de war, and needs what dey stole from our folks!" said in- 
dignant Dick, looking up at Mr. Redmond with a scowl. 

"Well, Dick, I'm grateful for what I 've got left, that 
could n't be burned, nor carried down the river. I reckon 
we '11 get along and make enough to live on ; and the Lord 
will reward the evil-doers. You 're free now, Dick, and 
I 'm not your master any longer ; but I shall not care any 
the less for your welfare. I shall need hands to work my 
plantation and low grounds, as in other years, and I 'd rather 
hire my old servants than strangers. We '11 stick together, 
and help each other, won't we, Dick ? " 

"Dat's de trufe, sah! I ain't gwine Vay from ye no 
more, marster, sartin shore! Got 'miff of 'em, I is — ain't 
like our folks — no sah ! Dey don't keer nuthin fur nig- 
gers when dey gits 'em 'way from dare homes — I knows 
'em good ! Oh ! I tell you, sah, I likes our Southern folks 
heap de mose — dat's me!" and Dick gave a congratula- 
tory roll and chuckle for being safe at home again. 

As the evening wore away, Walter Eldon was observed, 
through the twilight, galloping down the broad, white road. 
He took his hat off, and flourished it around his head, when he 
caught sight of Edalia and Minnie, watching for his coming. 

They were at the gate in a twinkling. 

" Good news ! " cried Walter, holding up a letter. " ' Col- 
onel Ormund the Brave' and 'Bertha the Beauty' were 
married last May, and will be here in two weeks (Deo vo- 
lente) to see the old friends and scenes. Hurrah for the 
Union!" shouted Walter, tossing the letter over the gate, 
with his face all aglow. 

* True incidents of the war that can be proven. 



BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 381 

"I say so, too, by Jupiter! " sang out Mr. Kedmond, rub- 
bing his hands with exultation, as he stood upon the piazza- 
steps. "I said some folks would swim ashore from the 
foundered ship, and I reckon the Colonel and his wife won't 
grieve much over its loss ; for the war brought them together 
for all time. " 

" Then you meant them, when you said it nine months 
ago?" queried Minnie, with wide eyes. 

"Blest if I didn't! " returned the old man, with snap- 
ping orbs. 

" Oh, lordy, honey ! " exclaimed Aunt Cora, half crying 
over the good news. " I thought I 'd never see Miss Bert 
agin in dis worl, chile ; but I reckon I will now, honey. I 
ain't been so glad sense you was married, and Dick come 
back ; dat 's de blessed trufe, chile ! " 

And the faithful old Christian caught up her short-stem 
pipe, and filled the kitchen with a fog, in her glad excite- 
ment. 

Two weeks later, Colonel Ormund and wife sat at Mr. 
Redmond's tea-table, refreshing themselves after their jour- 
ney with Aunt Cora's excellent supper, in honor of their 
arrival. 

" Don't look, now, as though you 'd lost something and 
could n't find it ! " said Mr. Eedmond, gazing admiringly at 
our heroine's radiant face, with a significant smile. 

" No, sir ; I found it last May, after looking for it in vain 
twenty long years," responded Bertha, raising her bright 
brown eyes to Percy's loving glance. 

"And Uncle Ned suspected you then, and never let the 
cat out till after the war ! " said Minnie, with a pout. " If 
J'd had a hint of the truth, I would have managed it for 
you twenty years ago, I '11 warrant ! " she added, with an 
intelligent shake of her wise little head. 

"Should n't wonder if news could fix it ; for 'twould 'a' gone 



382 BERTHA, THE BEAUTY. 

from Dan to Beersheba in a day, by Jupiter ! " laughed Mr. 
Redmond, gulping down his third cup of hot coffee. 

" Don't go back to Virginia ! " pleaded Edalia ; " we 've 
been separated long enough. Settle down in the ' Old North 
State, God bless her'!" 

" That is our purpose," said Percy, looking very much 
pleased. "Father Belmont has authorized me to re-pur- 
chase the place where his children were born ; and as you 
are soon to have a railroad from* Williamsville to Tarboro', 
it will bring us together in an hour's ride." 

Glad cries and clapping of hands went up from the list- 
eners. 

"Mother Belmont," continued Percy, smiling down upon 
Bertha, "is homesick, and Claude thinks there's noplace 
like Carolina. My wife has no preference for a foreign 
population (putting one finger on his lip, significantly), and 
I favor the move," added Percy, with sparkling eyes. 

" Good ! by Jupiter ! blest if it ain't ! Three cheers for 
the Union ! " cried Uncle Ned, laying himself back with a 
merry laugh that was echoed by all parties, including Aunt 
Cora and Di ; and Dick lay down in his " warm corner " 
and rolled, when the news was carried out. 

Dora was early at Mr. Redmond's next day, and Colonel 
AVilmer and Peter came in before the close, with Dr. Mont- 
rose and family, making a happy reunion of friends of long 
gone years. 

They all went over to the old homestead that eve, where, 
twenty years ago, our hero and heroine had first met in 
life's sunny morn ; and here we now leave them, in the low 
brown house with the long piazza. 



THE END. 



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